The UVA Mess

Haven’t posted a lot about the UVA mess, but I’ve been absolutely fascinated by it.  I really like Big Steve’s take, especially this part:

One can debate about whether “business model” as a concept applies to a university given that:

“Universities have multiple inputs & uncountable and unpredictable outputs. And that’s how we like them.” From Slate

But the idea that universities should adopt strategic dynamism is silliness.  Universities cannot adjust quickly to exogenous shocks and changes in the marketplace.  Much of what we do involves reputations–that schools are valued for perceived impact, whether that is teaching, the quality of the students or in research.  None of that changes very quickly.  Universities are less like sailboats and more like aircraft carriers–damn hard to turn around quickly.

While I like to generalize and move around in my research, I know there are many things I cannot do, including run a business.  Perhaps those who run businesses might be just a bit more humble about their expertise beyond their experiences.  Dan Snyder has not been very good for the Washington Redskins football team despite being a dandy businessperson.  Peter Angelos was a very successful lawyer, but the Orioles have failed since he got the franchise.  Just perhaps the big business folks who got appointed to the Board of Visitors have few clues about what it takes to run a university.  Just a guess.

Slate’s John Dickerson has a really nice piece about how the Board of Visitors took a risk in the firing, but then had no idea what to do if their risk failed (which it clearly did).

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Chart of the day

I really ought to check in on the Atlantic website more.  Every time I get there weekly email, it’s chock full of interesting stuff (then again, maybe all I really need is the weekly email).  Anyway, loved this cool chart of the history of the world’s GDP over the last 2000 years in one graph:

Screen Shot 2012-06-20 at 9.37.55 AM.png

And this very interesting interpretation:

So, one way to read the graph, very broadly speaking, is that everything to the left of 1800 is an approximation of population distribution around the world and everything to the right of 1800 is a demonstration of productivity divergences around the world — the mastering of means of manufacturing, production and supply chains by steam, electricity, and ultimately software that concentrated, first in the West, and then spread to Japan, Russia, China, India, Brazil, and beyond.

Photo of the day

Recent National Geographic Photo of the day:

Photo: A nighttime view of the Matterhorn

Matterhorn at Night

Photograph by Nenad Saljic

An affront to democracy

As if there could be any doubt that Republicans are far more interested in reducing turnout than in actually having fair and efficient elections, this is just utterly depressing:

Five months away from Election Day with marquee races for president, governor and dozens of other offices, North Carolina legislators have again voted to slash the battleground state’s election budget — a move that will cause N.C. to forfeit $4 million in federal funds and which election watchdogs fear could make voting more chaotic this fall.

The budget just passed by Republican lawmakers includes $102,000 in cuts to the N.C. State Board of Elections, which oversees the state’s voting systems.

That’s on top of a $660,000 slashing of the Board’s budget in 2011 for a critical state agency whose core operating budget for running elections had been just under $3.5 million a year.

That means that the state election board will have less money to train poll workers, maintain voting machines and other measures to keep elections running smoothly.

It also triggers a more damaging blow to election funding: By failing to maintain a level of core election spending outlined by the Help America Vote Act, or HAVA, it will also cause North Carolina to forfeit $4 million in federal funds to improve voting systems in the state.

Insisting that voters have photo ID to stop the mythical voter identity fraud?  You bet.   Actually spending money to make sure elections operate as smoothly and fairly as possible?  Wouldn’t want to do that.  Free and fair elections are at the absolute heart of democracy and the Republicans’ willingness to play games with this is truly, absolutely disgusting.

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