288 degree requirement discrepancies

Academic advisors tend to get cold sweats over this type of thing. Fortunately, the institution where I work has a pretty solid degree audit system that is bulwarked by a solid system of humans. Class substitutions and transfer course equivalencies are part of my daily routine. Plus, I have my abacus at the ready in case of emergencies.

The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers found that West Virginia University awarded 288 degrees despite discrepancies in credit requirements.

The investigation began in the wake of a degree scandal at the University in which Heather Bresch, Gov. Joe Manchin’s daughter, was inappropriately awarded an Executive Master’s in Business Administration degree.

Along with Bresch’s degree, AACRAO Consulting found that 27 students in the WVU College of Business and Economics, and 261 additional undergraduate degrees either fell short of credits or had other discrepancies.

Degree requirement discrepancies stemmed from several sources, said Jonathan Cumming, assistant vice president of Graduate Education. The discrepancies originated because the records-keeping process was incomplete. Credit-hour deficiencies could also be due to errors in class substitutions or mistakes made in recording transfer credits.

The mission of AACRAO Consulting’s work at WVU is to “provide professional development, guidelines and voluntary standards to be used by higher education officials regarding the best practices in records management, admissions, enrollment management, administrative information technology and student services,” according to the final report.

via UWire

The final report from AACRAO Consulting is quite lengthy but it’s worth reading as it provides a lot of insights into what went wrong at WVU. The Registrar’s position at WVU was probably fast-tracked at light speed. The position description is already online! One of the requirements for the position is that your degree cannot be one of the 288….just kidding ;-)

Lastly, I wanted to point out this quote from the AACRAO Consulting report: “Many faculty find the Banner system difficult to use, instead opting to keep records in paper form.”

SunGard Higher Education, ARE YOU LISTENING? The interface for Banner is horrendous. I would say that it’s horrible, but I don’t want to insult horrible! Let it be known that if anyone can create an interface/system that does what Banner does, and is actually friendly to humans, the higher education institutions of the world will grant you immortality and a cash prize!

Higher Education Administrator

Apparently I have one of the best jobs in the United States. According to U.S. News and World Report, one of the best careers in 2009 is “higher education administrator“.

The article starts off innocently enough:

If you liked attending college, chances are you’ll like working there, too.

Check. I enjoyed attending college and I enjoy working in higher education.

Compared with most office environments, college surroundings are beautiful, the atmosphere intellectually stimulating, and the work hours more forgiving.

The environment at institutions of higher education is indeed a beautiful place, both aesthetically and intellectually. However, I’m not sure if Mr. Nemko has ever worked an all night event at a student union or staffed a summer orientation program. The work hours of higher education administrators are more like a rollercoaster. Sometimes we work a 9 to 5. Sometimes we’re upside down and moving at 60 miles an hour while trying to facilitate a program with over 200 students on an early Saturday morning.

And things really lighten up in the summer.

Once again, summer isn’t really “light”. A lot of higher education administrators are at their busiest during the summer sessions.

For better or worse, there are lots of management jobs on campus because university bureaucracies tend to be large, from student affairs to academic affairs, admission to alumni affairs, physical plant to student health service.

Umm. Large support structures exist because we have a lot of students at our institutions. It takes a lot of people to create a university community.

One downside: Office politics can be brutal. Political correctness also bothers some people, who feel that holding liberal views is a litmus test for getting hired or promoted.

I’ve often found it disappointing that people label justice, equity and dignity as “political correctness.” I’d rather work with people who are not racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist, etc. What’s so brutal about that?

Smart Specialties – Student Affairs/Student Life. The work is unusually pleasant

That’s an interesting combination: unusual and pleasant. Maybe Student Affairs work is just pleasant and because a lot of jobs are not, they define what is and is not pleasant. Maybe unpleasant jobs should be the ones that are unusual and not the norm…?

Learn more: NAPSA Student Affairs Careers Page

Apparently news editor is not one of the best careers of 2009. It’s N-A-S-P-A.

The article currently has 19 comments. They are actually more interesting to read than the actual article…

NACADA Technology Seminar – sessions

I’m one of 4 faculty members for the upcoming NACADA Technology Seminar in Clearwater, Florida. The seminar is geared toward academic advisors with varying technology skills. We’re expecting about 200 attendees at “NACADA Tech”. This should be a paradigm-changing event. We hope to have wi-fi access for all participants during our sessions. This sounds simple, but it turns out that free, in-session internet access is fairly rare in student affairs / academic affairs conferences. We want to ensure that participants have a hands-on experience with a lot of back channel conversations/connections.

I’ll be facilitating three sessions:
Continue reading NACADA Technology Seminar – sessions

Tech people

I was recently at a higher education conference for academic advisors where every time the campus tech support office personnel were referenced, they were called “tech guys.”

For example: “Our tech guys are going to be configuring our database.”

I was asked to be on a technology panel on academic advising and Web 2.0 technologies. During what was probably a long-winded answer to an audience question, I decided to point out that our campuses have “tech people” or “tech folks” on staff in our IT offices. I said something about the fact that tech guys is such a sexist phrase as it makes women invisible and centralizes men as being technology experts.

On a related note, Jason Kottke has been keeping track of the gender diversity at some of the most well known and attended web conferences… WebVisions, a web conference in Portland, Oregon seems to contain a bit more gender variation than some of the conferences that Kottke references, but not by a lot. Of 38 total speakers, only 8 are women.

Academic Advising

Academic Advising has fried my brain this week

My brain feels like the egg in that frying pan…it’s a bit cooked. I will have had over 60 appointments this week. Faces and names have blurred together into something that looks like a Jackson Pollock painting.

Frequent topics of discussion this week include: “fun” classes, study abroad, dual-enrollment, graduation, financial aid, class standing, course overrides, changing majors, the location of the Registrar’s Office, Spring term classes, bacc core, studying, transfer credit articulation, closed classes, waitlisting, Phase 1 and Phase 2 registration, the sauna-like temperature of my office, recitations, the OSU Luau, caffeinated beverages, social justice, the benefits of being a Mac user, the aesthetic limits of Poling Hall, course petitions, long term planning, transcripts, practicum/internship applications, and the height differential of my chair versus my guest chair.

Continue reading Academic Advising

Noose + History = Racism

Oregon State University Phi Gamma Delta Noose

This photo was taken in front of the Phi Gamma Delta house here at Oregon State University. Apparently the noose was from their Halloween decorations that had been left up accidentally. A student informed me that the original noose included a witch hanging from it. Note that all of the other Phi Gamma Delta Halloween decorations had been removed leaving just the noose hanging from a tree.

I’m sure the fraternity members never thought about the symbolism and historical context of nooses. Once again, racism does not always include malicious intent. The effect of racist symbolism creates an unwelcome and scary environment.

I really hope that Bob Kerr, OSU’s Coordinator of Greek Life, addresses this situation immediately. I also hope that the OSU student newspaper, the Daily Barometer does not try to cover up or silence anti-racist editorials on this situation. (The Barometer has refused to print several editorials that critique the Barometer’s printing of a photo of a student in blackface.)

For more examples of racism on college campuses, check out Vox’s – College Racism Roundup.

An unlucky year

University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine admissions chart
The 2007 batch of first-year medical students at the University of Missouri-Columbia is the least racially diverse in recent history.

We are constantly concerned and aware if we don’t mirror the population of the state, and we just keep working at it,” William Crist, dean of the medical school, said. “Fortunately, in big systems we try to view how well we’re doing not by a single class. You look at four-year periods because by chance you can get an unlucky year.”

Dear Dr. Crist, “chance” and “luck” have nothing to do with the intentional recruitment and support of students of color. Citing that the reason that Black enrollment is low because of the number of medical school applications by Black students does not answer the question of “why” the number of applicants is low. Maybe you could ask why the number of white student applications is so high? Is it luck? Perhaps it is because the system is biased towards white students…?

Continue reading An unlucky year

OSU Students + Internment

Oregon State University Registrar

Oregon State University’s Office of the Registrar website contains a mélange of information for students, families, staff and faculty. Last week, while perusing the site, I noticed this link at the top of the Registrar’s homepage — “OSU Students Interned During WW II.”

Continue reading OSU Students + Internment

Seismic improvement

Milam Hall

It’s a bit disconcerting to read an article on the earthquake readiness of buildings at your place of employment. Especially when your office is in one of the five buildings “identified as the most in need of seismic improvements.” I’m guessing that being in a structure of “unreinforced masonry” is probably not the safest place to be when the ground starts shaking.

Academic Advising Abacus

academic advising with an abacus
I decided to purchase an abacus for my desk. Students need at least 180 credits to graduate and at least 60 of those credits need to be from upper division courses. I decided that it would be interesting to see the reaction from my students as I calmly ignored my computer screen (with their credit information) and flicked away at my new abacus.

I am ornery.