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Archive for Friday, September 23, 2011

Heard on the Hill: Academics’ role in conference shifting questioned; New York Times columnist to deliver lecture at KU; researcher finds people typically see themselves in their friends

September 23, 2011

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• An eagle-eyed Heard on the Hill commenter pointed to this article in the Wall Street Journal on academics and conference realignment (written, by the way, by KU journalism grad Kevin Helliker).

It called the University of Oklahoma’s academic standing “by some measures, abysmal.”

That can’t be good to hear for KU folks. In case you don’t remember, KU tied with OU in the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings at No. 101 overall.

KU, of course, has a few things going for it that OU doesn’t. KU ranks higher than OU in federal research expenses — KU is No. 138 in the country, while OU is No. 162. The biggest is membership in the Association of American Universities.

KU leaders are well aware that KU doesn’t hold up well when compared with its AAU peers, which is why they’ve been undertaking some measures to bolster the overall research expenses at the school. Provost Jeff Vitter outlined the situation in a memo last November.

And you can also get a sense of where KU stacks up using this chart from the Chronicle of Higher Education that shows several AAU non-members are doing better with federal research dollars than many members, including KU.

Also, you may have noticed that KU was asking for state funds to hire “foundation professors” in key areas that would align with KU’s strategic plan.

Vitter told regents recently that the profs would help KU stay in the AAU.

"We are competing with another 60 universities that want to join," he told regents.

As I understand it, the hope is that KU would be able to use the funds ($3 million per year) to attract faculty who belong to national academies, which the AAU looks favorably on.

The AAU voted Nebraska out earlier this year, and Syracuse left voluntarily rather than face expulsion, so the issue is of no small concern.

What role all this plays in conference realignment is still a little murky, as Helliker points out. But — conference realignment or no — it’s still obviously a major area of concern for KU’s leaders.

• A New York Times columnist will come to campus to deliver the School of Business’ 2011 Anderson Chandler Lecture.

Andrew Ross Sorkin, author of “Too Big to Fail,” will deliver “The Global Economy: What’s Next?” at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Lied Center.

It’s free and open to the public.

Sorkin, who covers mergers and acquisitions for the Times, had his book made into a 2011 HBO television movie that had the same name.

• Chris Crandall thinks he knows what attracts friends to each other, and it’s, well … each other, according to today.com.

Crandall, a KU psychology professor, and others interviewed students at KU and other smaller Kansas colleges to determine that people often find friends that share many of the same traits, including politics, moral beliefs, prejudices and health-related activities.

"When you have opportunity to choose your friends, you will tend to choose people who are similar to you; there's a lot of evidence that we like similar others," KU psychology professor Chris Crandall told today.com, discussing study entitled "Social Ecology of Similarity: Big Schools, Small Schools and Social Relationships,” which he co-authored. The research was published in the psychology journal Group Processes and Intergroup Relations.

• I’ll be your friend even if we like different stuff. I only have one requirement, and that's that you send me a tip for Heard on the Hill first to ahyland@ljworld.com.

Comments

ahyland 2 years, 7 months ago

Thanks, konzahawk, for pointing that bit out. I hadn't noticed that about the rankings in the article, but that definitely makes sense. By the way, OU also didn't have its health sciences center research figured in. Here's the article's source for the research rankings:

http://mup.asu.edu/research_data.html

The AAU definitely allows KU to count research done on both the KUMC campus and the Lawrence campus. That's a good thing, because Nebraska wasn't allowed to count its medical center, because it was viewed as a different campus within the state system. And, at least at KUMC (and I'm sure this is true elsewhere), there's quite a bit of federally funded health research that goes on there.

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konzahawk 2 years, 7 months ago

KU does need to step it up, academically. New admission standards would help immediately. Also, the research figures used in the WSJ article are for the Lawrence campus only and do not include KU Med. KU fares much better when the two campuses are combined. I believe that the AAU allows KU to include both campuses, when reporting research expenditures..

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yourworstnightmare 2 years, 7 months ago

LJD230, you are correct. I think BGL and Vitter are doing the things necessary to improve KU as a research university.

Their problem to overcome is the decades of inertia and mediocrity that put KU in a tie with the University of Oklahoma.

Until recently, KU cared very little about research and focused on teaching, and there are many at KU with this attitude still.

Previous leaders at KU did not make research a priority, and we have fallen behind to the point of being booted from the AAU.

The AAU top metrics are all research based. Undergraduate teaching is a second level metric listed at the end of the second level metrics.

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LJD230 2 years, 7 months ago

When I was in the frist grade I learned that 12-3=9. I can't iomagine any school with a reputable academic or athletic reputation wanting to be associated with he leftovers from the former BIG XII. The competing press conference yesterday from MU and OU exemplify everything that is wrong with the Little IX.

Anyone got the cajones to step up and say in a clear and loud voice say the mission of KU is education and research? An education from KU is now like a junk bond.

Hopefully BGL and Vitter can make it very clear to the suits in Topeka they have a choice: invest in penny stock or an enterprise with the potential of a great ROI.

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Mike George 2 years, 7 months ago

It is reassuring to know that as we choose our friends, we look for folks similar to us. I just hope that arriving at this stunning conclusion didn't cost the taxpayers too much. Perfect example of academia being underworked and overpaid.

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LJD230 2 years, 7 months ago

The Big and/or Little IX or XII is the subject of a not very flattering story in today's online edition of SI:

.http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/writers/andy_staples/09/22/big12.agreement/index.html?sct=cf_t11_a1

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devobrun 2 years, 7 months ago

"As I understand it, the hope is that KU would be able to use the funds ($3 million per year) to attract faculty who belong to national academies, which the AAU looks favorably on"

It is ironic that the university exists as a place of new thought, investigation, and challenge to the intellect.....while seeking acceptance as a member of an accreditation group because its professors are the most plugged in to the establishment. How can you not be stultified in your work when endeavoring to be like everybody else?

Perhaps leaving the AAU and not defining good scholarship as large government funding would be emancipating. Nah, that would be too hard and dangerous. Anyway, it is better to look good than to be good.

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Oldsoul 2 years, 7 months ago

'Andrew Ross Sorkin, author of “Too Big to Fail,” will deliver “The Global Economy: What’s Next?” at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Lied Center.' Since KU officials are known for promulgating vicious lies that "are too big to fail" thanks to the local incestuous conflict-of-interest politics, this columnist is a fitting choice of a speaker.

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