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Archive for Thursday, December 23, 2010

Heard on the Hill: Brownback says small-degree programs might be examined; KU psychology professor says stop trying to multitask; Pepperdine law dean search has a blog

December 23, 2010

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Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University, with an extra helping of holiday cheer.

• Do you see what I see?

Because I see the last sentence in a paragraph of Scott Rothschild’s wide-ranging interview with Gov.-Elect Sam Brownback.

“(Brownback) said he would like to reallocate resources within higher education to increase funding for areas directly linked to the economy, such as the Kansas University Medical Center, KU School of Pharmacy, veterinary medicine at Kansas State and aviation at Wichita State. He mentioned that some states are discontinuing degree programs that are graduating small numbers of students and perhaps Kansas colleges should be doing that.”

I can only assume from this that the governor-elect is a rabid Heard on the Hill fan who counts down the hours each day, until he can get his fresh dose of KU news every day. That’s because I brought this topic up a couple of weeks ago.

And do you hear what I hear?

That would be KU officials shuffling to the front of the line to defend these programs.

After I wrote the blog post a couple of weeks ago, I heard a variety of great responses.

KU faculty and administrators defended many of the programs — some don’t cost any additional resources, and others provide high-quality research or serve the state well, officials said.

Universities, especially in the research area, are always looking far into the future. And Danny Anderson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, made an interesting point to me when I asked him about this recently.

“If you had called me 20 years ago, you may have been asking, ‘Why does KU want to continue offering Chinese or Arabic?” he said. “And those languages are very important today.”

Some of those small programs, such as petroleum engineering (though it’s growing of late), contribute to the state’s bottom line, too. The Tertiary Oil Recovery Program would seem to bolster Kansas businesses in ways that Brownback supported.

Do you know what I know?

If Brownback or the Legislature makes any kind of serious run at these programs, KU folks won’t go down without a fight.

• KU psychology professor Paul Atchley has a message for those (like me) scrambling around trying to take care of 17 different things at once this holiday season. You can’t multitask, so stop trying, he said in a blog post for the Harvard Business Review.

“Based on over a half-century of cognitive science and more recent studies on multitasking, we know that multitaskers do less and miss information. It takes time (an average of 15 minutes) to re-orient to a primary task after a distraction such as an email,” Atchley wrote. “Efficiency can drop by as much as 40 percent. Long-term memory suffers and creativity — a skill associated with keeping in mind multiple, less common, associations — is reduced.”

Sad news for those like me, who think they can do many different things all at once. My editor can vouch for that too — and will probably suggest that I take Atchley’s advice to heart so I can turn in my stories earlier.

I’ll get right on that. After I make this phone call…

• Interested in following along with the law dean search at Pepperdine University? Well, they’ve got a blog for that.

Longtime KU faculty member, administrator and federal appeals court judge Deanell Reece Tacha is one of five finalists for the position.

That has since been trimmed to three, but because Pepperdine is a private university, there’s not much I can find out about the search from them. And, as of earlier this week, Tacha said she hadn’t heard anything, and was just looking forward to having her family home for the holidays.

• Have a lovely holiday, everyone. Heard on the Hill will return after Christmas. In the meantime, keep sending those tips to ahyland@ljworld.com.

Comments

begin60 3 years, 12 months ago

By arguing for sensible limitations on multi-tasking Prof Atchley is doing a great public service!

parrothead8 3 years, 12 months ago

If we re-allocate educational funding to degree programs with a more direct link to the economy, we're arguing that there is no real need for knowledge, and that all higher education should, essentially, serve the economy. Industry should dictate education, right? That's not what made this country great.

geekyhost 3 years, 12 months ago

Exactly. Community Colleges and VoTechs are the ones who worry about creating a direct link to the economy with their programs, and they already do that job without having some weird state review.

thatonedude 3 years, 12 months ago

There ISN'T a real need for knowledge. It lessens Sammy's chances at reelection.

yourworstnightmare 3 years, 12 months ago

Size is not the only way to determine program success. It should be determined by the productivity and reputation of the faculty. A small program with internationally-renowned, productive faculty should be supported, and large programs with mediocre, unproductive faculty should be reduced. An example of the former is Speech and Hearing; and example of the latter is Psychology.

geekyhost 3 years, 12 months ago

Speech and Hearing was exactly what came to my mind as a small but productive department.

JustNoticed 3 years, 12 months ago

The Brownback disaster continues to unfold. Not that it matters much, we're already lost.

RKLOG 3 years, 12 months ago

90% of the multitasking I do is for my professors. My note to professors: Be consistent!

bearded_gnome 3 years, 12 months ago

“(Brownback) said he would like to reallocate resources within higher education to increase funding for areas directly linked to the economy, such as the Kansas University Medical Center, KU School of Pharmacy, veterinary medicine at Kansas State and aviation at Wichita State. He mentioned that some states are discontinuing degree programs that are graduating small numbers of students and perhaps Kansas colleges should be doing that.”

---well, everybody's allowed a mulligan or two.
I hope that that's what this is. lots of "small numbers" programs have big economic impact. also, connection/impact on the economy can be hard to quantify: english and particularly writing, for example. many jobs need this as a basic skill. however, few people in kansas work as "writers."

there are/were some really valuable small-numbers programs in the law school for example. they made big impacts in particular areas.

and if you want to see a clinical psychologist for therapy or evaluation, KU's program is a "small numbers" program. almost all programs across the country are.

and the "basic research" has to be done somewhere. then your high economic impact programs utilize some of the basic research data.


you want a Ph.D. in winemaking, you have to go to University of California Davis, there's a small numbers program.

bearded_gnome 3 years, 12 months ago

• KU psychology professor Paul Atchley has a message for those (like me) scrambling around trying to take care of 17 different things at once this holiday season. You can’t multitask, so stop trying , he said in a blog post for the Harvard Business Review.

“Based on over a half-century of cognitive science and more recent studies on multitasking, we know that multitaskers do less and miss information. It takes time (an average of 15 minutes) to re-orient to a primary task after a distraction such as an email,” Atchley wrote. “Efficiency can drop by as much as 40 percent. Long-term memory suffers and creativity — a skill associated with keeping in mind multiple, less common, associations — is reduced.”

---maybe nurses and aides at LMH shouldn't be walking around with cell phones? thus, do cell phones actually decrease quality of medical care delivered?


somebody cited the Psychology department as a large department without much impact. first, note that Psych does a lot of basic research. they're not asking the questions that put the dime into the assembly line's savings directly. however, if you're designing that line to work with people, you are taking advantage of basic research on how people function, perceive, andmake choices.

-kinda ironic the psych department ref under a blog including comments by Prof Achley. if you look at his work, you see he's very productive and his work matters.

also try googling "depression" "tlc" "kansas university" "psychology department." the TLC program is making a huge difference for people with persistent depression!

you want value from the KU Psych department, there's lots more.

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