Faculty Panel Pans Bain's Vision For UNT-Dallas

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Last month UNT-Dallas made the rather unexpected announcement that founding President John Ellis Price was stepping down effective August 2013, leaving him in office long enough to launch the so-called New University Model. Details about the model were left up to Bain & Company (the consulting affiliate of Mitt Romney's eponymous venture capital firm) and a who's-who of business leaders and a few academics known as the 21st Century Commission.

On the side, Price also set up an advisory panel of faculty and administrators to review proposals for the New University Model. They've released a report that the Morning News had a bit of trouble getting, responding to some of Bain's initial recommendations that were presented to the committee but, as far as I know, haven't been released. You can read the panel's report here.

The panel has some good things to say, but mostly not. Bain, they say in the report, goes too far in advocating for the abandonment of the traditional university model, in essence "throwing the baby out with the bathwater." The recommendations focus too much on "winning," by increasing enrollment rather than improving quality; the data Bain uses is incomplete or is skewed to amp up the benefits of "disruptive innovation."

What it ultimately boils down to is a philosophical difference about higher education. The advisory panel members seem to be on board with the notion that UNT-Dallas, being an urban campus with a high number of transfer and nontraditional students, needs to be both more pragmatic and more innovative than a typical liberal arts institution. The university, they say, should focus on "providing access to success" -- e.g. jobs -- "at an affordable cost."

The panel simply thinks Bain goes too far and advocates "across-the-board changes for change's sake." Instead, UNT-Dallas should "continue to emphasize educational quality rather than efficiency and profit."

The panel members I called declined to talk or referred me elsewhere. Greg Tomlin, a panel member and the executive director of marketing and communication, referred me to an outside public relations firm. I'm waiting to hear back. Meanwhile, the 21st Century Commission is scheduled to release its report next month.

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19 comments
cynicaloldbastard
cynicaloldbastard

"The panel simply thinks Bain goes too far and advocates "across-the-board changes for change's sake."

 

Wow, a consulting firm advocating changes for changes sake.  Who would have imagined?  Bring them back in three years and the consultants will advocate changing back to the original model.  That is what consulting firms do for a living.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Bain.  Yesterday a thousand pages of Bain documents were released showing that Romney, in direct opposition to his Mormon faith, invested in gambling operations and cigarette companies.  What a flaming hypocrite.  This, along with his paying no taxes for years, is why he is so terrified of releasing his returns.

judd_bradbury
judd_bradbury

Eric I encourage you to write about how younger generations are struggling to establish households and the impact that has on the economy. You may be thinking that this is personal or a possible story line. I will go you several notches above that. This is the whole enchilada, the story of our time. The entitlements, expectations, behaviors, and attitudes of the baby boom generation are the vampire squid devouring the country. Goldman Sachs is a flea riding on this animal. A quick fact to jump start your thinking. Generation X, the next generation after the baby boomers, well into household formation, lost 59% of their household asset value in the last 5 years. Look at the unemployment rate by age or generation. The story is not partisan, that is a baby boomer parlor game to get everyone to take their eye off the ball. Look at the facts, the story is there.

bandito
bandito

This entire scenario has been a disaster and faculty are under a gag order not to discuss it.

1. UNT Dallas would have functioned most efficiently as a satellite campus, not a free standing campus. Resources have been flushed to attempt to grant accreditation to this frankenstein model of higher ed. 2. Price never should have been in charge of anything past helping found the school. He is a slime who doesn't operate transparently and is out of his league. He has treated tenured faculty as if they are disposable while chasing the status of business leaders in Dallas. 3. We are now far down the road with nothing to show for all the time and money flushed.

Let's be honest. Bain is not there out of compassion for the community. They are getting their tenacles in with the hopes of creating revenue in the near future. The model they have tried their best to import from Iowa and BYU has NOTHING to do with the student population of UNTDallas. And no, just as we all have said, we cannot compete for "driven" college ready students because we don't have the programs to compete. Price has driven the entire school off a cliff with his political maneuveurs and refusal to communicate with the peons.

Price spinned this disaster to D Mag and DMN as a situation where we would grow to 20,000 students in the next 10 years when we can't even retain 2,000 and we are sliding backwards in terms of student enrollment.

 

4. A college education is out of reach for most Texas students because the state no longer pays its fair share as it has done for 50 years. Students are counseled to take out loans to graduate on time, and that is not the answer. The state of Texas has to invest in higher education.

 

5. The administrative overhead at UNT Dallas is out of control. We only have an enrollment of 2,000 and we are staffed like we have an average size university.

 

6. We are located in an area of DISD's worst high schools and the high schools in the southern suburbs are of extremely poor quality. We can't recruit our way out of this by using a hybrid model because the students don't have the skills to independently learn college level material.

7. Bringing in business leaders and a former Dallas superintendent brings nothing. We are trying to create a vision for a university for the long term. These people are of no help.

8. We have to serve the students who are willing to come to what will probably be a commuter hub. We are convenient and have some good programs. The future needs to be developed by the faculty and the community, not Bain and its ridiculous model developed for schools that in no way serve the demographics we serve.

John Price needs to go. Bain needs to go. The community being served and the faculty need to develop a long term plan.

 

anon
anon

There's honestly no reason to mention the Mitt connection to Bain & Company in this article unless you are attempting to inflame your reader's to a certain point of view. In this case, it's clear that you'd prefer they disagree with Bain's findings before they even know what they are by associating the firm with a candidate you assume they probably don't like. As for the critics who are dislike that Bain is seeking "efficiency and profit", I'd say that efficiency is something that higher education should aspire to at least attempt. And who is looking for profit? The school is public and by definition nonprofit. The panel is making nonsense statements to retain their entrenched positions (speaking of putting profit over education).

 

Look, administrators and faculty can oppose change in education all they want, but it will come. The model can either change violently or with their input. But our society can't deal with it much longer. The reason the economy is in the doldrums is that retiring baby boomers are not being replaced by household formation among 20 somethings. Household formation (eg moving in to your own place, getting married, having kids, etc) is a huge driver of economic activity. That phase is being delayed by a noose of education debt. You can't afford a mortgage when you're already paying one to Sallie Mae.

JanBrady
JanBrady

 @judd_bradbury  You have no clue of the facts. Lumping in all baby boomers is ridiculous and uninformed.  Generation Jones, who are technically baby boomers, has gotten screwed by older Baby Boomers and you don't hear us whining. When we were in college, interest rates were 17%, we stood in line for gas as teens, there were no jobs for us in academia or anywhere else, because the older baby boomer took them. So we created our own jobs. Creative class ring a bell? It does for us because many of us didn't have a choice. 

 

Now in our mid forties - mid mid fifties, we've seen our biggest asset plummet - our home. Because so many of us are self employed, our credit scores tend to be lower and the banks are not refinancing our homes.  The bail out didn't do jack shit for us and they have the nerve to start kicking tires for another bailout.  Riiiiggggghhhtttt!    Creative, energetic, with fantastic ideas, we were ready to take the reins, but the older baby boomers are screwing us again, by refusing to retire. Now it seems, we will never get the academic positions,  directorships of non profits, etc. in our prime intellectual years.  By the time they finally retire, do you think we're going to get those positions. Hardly.  Do your research.  In fact, the fastest growing unemployed group are people who are 50.  

 

Btw, we graduated with college debt to, so shut up. I graduated with $6,000 in debt. The price of a new car then.  According to CNN and Money, college students today graduate on average, with $25,000 in debt. The price of a Prius.  Most are graduating with the debt because they refused to live in a dorm and chose instead to live in an apartment, because living in a dorm was beneath them.  A college education for life is worth the price of a damn car, don't you think?

 

Don't lump in all baby boomers because you don't know what you are talking about. I'm sticking with Obama. He represents the generation who had to create their own way, because corporate boards were not and are still not open to people our age, or who look like him,  or women.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

 @judd_bradbury So then you are right in lock step with the republicans, who want anyone over the age of 50 to drop dead.

EricNicholson4
EricNicholson4 moderator

 @bandito Hey bandito, you know much more than I do. Can you email me?eric.nicholson@dallasobserver.com

bandito
bandito

 @anon

 The economy is in the doldrums for many, complex reasons, not associated with student debt.

The baby boomers, including Flo Shapiro and Rick Perry, paid almost nothing for their college degrees because their parents, who had just survived the Depression, paid taxes to cover the majority of the cost of getting a degree at a Texas state university. In some kind of grand "screw the rest of you" gesture, the Republicans have decided state universities will become similar to private unversities in terms of tuition. Yes, we are eating our seed corn to prop up idealogues. So why do these people keep getting elected????????????

By refusing to underwrite higher ed and make tuition affordable ($2,000 range), the Republicans are making certain the wealthy have the permanent advantage. They attend schools that actually prepare them for college, and then they get a free ride from parents.

The other 99% are receiving substandard public educations at "government schools," and then must take on revolting levels of debt to finish college on time. The majority who don't graduate at all are left with mountains of loans with no economic benefit from the time and money they invested. Yet, we still sing the song that all need to go to college.

 

SO WHY DO RICK PERRY AND HIS CRONY FRIENDS RETURN TO OFFICE? Because the rich bastards who like this scenario vote. Because the middle class has been suckered by their low taxes propaganda, even though their own kids can no longer finish school without huge debt.

 

DON'T LIKE IT? Vote for the other side.

EricNicholson4
EricNicholson4 moderator

 @anon Wasn't trying to inflame anyone with the Romney reference. Just clarifying that, yes, this is related to that Bain, but its not the same thing. And you're preaching to the choir about the noose of education debt. If not for student loans, my wife and I would be in a house by now.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

 @JanBrady  @judd_bradbury Amen. Whether you call us late boomers or 'tweeners, we got screwed by demographics and the stupidity and cupidity of those directly ahead of us.

judd_bradbury
judd_bradbury

 @JanBrady  @judd_bradbury Jan you have made many of my points in your response. Most of the people you are describing are in the Gen X generation. I am 43 for what it is worth. This is not a personal complaint. I have been studying this issue for the last 20 years. There is a large fact base to support the common arguments we have made.

Edward
Edward

 @bandito  @anon "By refusing to underwrite higher ed and make tuition affordable ($2,000 range), the Republicans are making certain the wealthy have the permanent advantage."

 

That's it in a nutshell. Similar to tax laws that favor the already wealthy, cutting funding to education is another way the rich and powerful are trying to make sure that they keep the upper hand.

 

Every one of these 50+ politicians that say stuff like "Well, I was able to go to college so why can't you?" needs understand that the economics aren't the same as when they went.  A combination of higher education costs (because the state is reneging on its responsibility) and that the middle class is no longer the middle class, makes it increasingly difficult for the kids to afford a college degree.

anon
anon

 @EricNicholson4  @anon they actually aren't related or affiliated in any way, other than having a similar name and being founded by former partners.

JanBrady
JanBrady

 @judd_bradbury I am not in GenX. I am GenJones and technically a baby boomer.  Perhaps you need to broaden your thinking by years, rather than by labels.  Sadly, the largest group getting slimmed are those born between 1965-1955, for the reasons stated above. Unfortunately, every generation has its cross to bear and its advantages.  In the history books, this will be ours.

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