Your daily dose of news, notes and links from around Kansas University.
• A KU group of musicians has made it over to Eutin, Germany, where they’ll be performing on Saturday.
I wrote earlier about their visit, which has attracted a fair bit of media attention in the country.
When I spoke with David Neely, KU’s symphony orchestra director, about the visit last month, he explained why the group had been garnering so much attention.
In essence, the city is almost viewing the group of seven KU musicians as a trial run for what could happen at the city’s annual music festival later in the summer, when the city could pay for a much larger group of about 75 KU students to attend.
KU would take enough students to put on an entire opera, and it could be seen as a way to revitalize a festival that’s been dwindling in recent years.
Neely said the media attention in Germany is attributable partly to a higher interest in the arts, but it also has a political element, as well.
A local trade organization is paying for the students to come over this time, Neely said, and state and local governments could provide funds for the potential return trip in the summer.
Here’s a video (fair warning, it’s mostly in German, with a few glimpses of KU students speaking English) that shows a little bit about what the seven musicians are doing in the country.
• I received a bit of feedback on my often-delayed small degree story that I finally got around to writing after covering the topic in detail in this space last month.
It’s always interesting to hear from folks after I write about a topic like this one that can be a sensitive one. I heard from a spokesman at the Kansas Board of Regents, who wasn’t particularly fond of the headline, “KU’s less popular state programs could be target of state review.”
He pointed out that the state — in the form of the regents staff — actually does review the programs already. And that’s not just the small programs. All of KU’s programs, along with each program at the other six state universities, are subject to regular regents review.
Another interesting thing that comes out of an article like this is what can happen when it gets picked up by other folks.
The website for Physics Today, which is a publication of the American Institute of Physics, noticed that physics was included in some of the programs with fewer bachelor’s degrees.
A headline said “Kansas University could stop offering physics and other less popular degree programs.”
While I guess that’s technically possible, I certainly never said that, and I haven’t yet heard a large groundswell of support for discontinuing the physics degree. It just happened to be on the list that KU created at my request. I think we’re still a long way away from being able to say that any of these degree programs are in danger. I’ve just been trying to track some of the movements that have gone on so far, and I’ll continue to keep one ear to the ground.
But something tells me that even if small degree programs do face consolidation and cutbacks, there will still be a way to earn a physics degree at KU.
• I’ve heard a lot of chatter about an interesting New York Times article about law schools recently.
It quotes law professors who say law schools are doing a disservice to their students by overstating the likelihood that students will get good jobs upon graduation. And it points out that the rankings of percentage of graduates employed that are used by U.S. News and World Report count all jobs the same — whether a law graduate is working at a high-powered law firm or waiting tables at Applebee’s.
In reality, the law profession seems to be suffering in the recession like the rest of us. And students are left with huge debt bills to pay.
It’s an interesting read, and I’d be curious to hear some thoughts from folks around here on it. Any suggestions for how I could take something out of this and look locally at KU?
• I take tips for Heard on the Hill from everyone, even the wait staff at Applebee’s. All you have to do is send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.