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"transformative conversations" occurring at ND

by Jay ⌂, San Diego, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 16:03

Some interesting stuff from that K. Russell/SI article posted below.

Russell’s involvement means that three prominent athletes on Notre Dame’s campus have been suspended over academics in the past two years. “When we recruit student-athletes, we have an obligation to provide them with the resources necessary,” Kelly says. “And if we don’t, then we have fallen short. And I think that in these instances, there’s culpability for everyone.”

Kelly wants the school to consider rethinking its approach. He says that, on average, his incoming freshman football class has a 2.8 GPA and a 24 on the ACT, while the median score for the rest of Notre Dame’s freshman class is 33. (The school does not track average GPA.) None of his newest recruits could have been admitted to the school on academic merit alone. Why then, he wonders, are most players on a path to graduate in 3 1⁄2 years—thanks to summer school requirements—when most Notre Dame students do so in four?

There’s a “church and state” separation between athletics and academics, but Kelly has reached out to athletic director Jack Swarbrick and president the Rev. John I. Jenkins about potential changes. He says “transformative conversations” are occurring on the academic side. “Are there other ways to do it?” Kelly asks. “Can we cut back on credit hours? Instead of taking 15 [the current practice to start a semester], can we take 12 and make it up in the summer? Are there other course offerings that could come about and be offered in lieu of a specific class? Those are conversations that had never taken place.”

Swarbrick is on board—to an extent. He acknowledges that the “gap issue” is more significant than when he attended Notre Dame in the mid-1970s, but he says it’s the “wrong narrative” to suggest that the recent high-profile suspensions are due to this gap. “These aren’t the only kids that had honor code violations at Notre Dame,” he says. “You’ll never know about the other ones. They tell their roommate they got mono, and they go home.”

In the spring of 2014, Swarbrick co-chaired a 17-member task force created to examine effective ways to support “at-risk student-athletes.” The takeaways proved more evolutionary than revolutionary, focusing on intensive individualized attention, a stronger summer bridge program, expansion of a writing and rhetoric tutorial, and faculty mentors. Faculty athletic representative Patricia Bellia, a law professor who was the task force’s other chair, says the process made the school realize it needs to take a “case management” approach to each student, with information pooled from trainers, assistant coaches, nutritionists and anyone close to them. “We’ve determined they can succeed [by admitting them],” she said. “How can we make that happen on an individual level? What kind of support and resources does that individual need?”

As the five players suspended last fall waited for the investigation and appeal to end, there was speculation that Kelly was so frustrated, he would leave for the NFL. Kelly claims the opposite, saying he and Swarbrick grew closer sorting through the suspensions. “We’ve done so many things here to put Notre Dame back in a position to compete nationally, and I kind of look at this as that last piece in making sure we’re taking care of our student-athletes,” he says. “It strengthened my resolve in, We’re going to get this right.”

swarbrick, academics


I thought the players already only take 12 hours in the fall

by Jack @, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 01:36 @ Jay

Not true?


12 hours would certainly be in line with many students

by Coach Gillespie, Omaha, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 06:35 @ Jack

A lot of the kids in my class ('07) only needed to take 12 hours as juniors and seniors to graduate in four years. All those students entering ND with 33 and 34 ACTs often have nearly a semester's worth of AP credits in History, English, Calc, Biology etc.

I'd be interested to hear ND's reason for not letting football players only take 12 hours, especially in the fall.


When I was there, they took 12 hours.

by Kevin @, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 10:08 @ Coach Gillespie

Most took summer classes, then 12 in the fall and 15 or whatever necessary in the spring. There may have been outliers, but that was the general approach.


A lot of the guys I knew...

by Greg, sittin on the dock of the bay, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 10:15 @ Kevin

...started with 15, but were at 12 by October 1 (unless they were upperclassmen and had already banked enough credits to legitimately start with 12 in the fall). Seems to me that part of what Swarthout is talking about is just starting out with the 12 instead of playing the system to get there.


some thoughts

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 19:05 @ Jay

* Kelly's right, it's not just athletes that are cheating. Cheating at ND is pervasive throughout the school. Kids do get away with it -- athletes and otherwise. For whatever reason, academia is ill prepared to deal with cheat these days. Perhaps detection is better than ever, perhaps there's more pressure than ever for students to produce high quality work, perhaps students are just lazier and less scrupulous, who knows. The fact is a single honesty incident will take up an inordinate amount of a professor's time and when they have to worry about getting that grant to try to get tenure or giving up already scant time to spend with their family, it's easy to understand that they're very willing to give a student a lecture and a "don't do it again."

* At the same time, though, the two most major cheating incidence that have affected the football team have been quite public. As I understand it, Golson was looking off a girl's test during an exam and she made something of a scene. Likewise the incident for the Frozen Five was pretty wisespread and became public. I know there are members of other teams that get away with cheating and I'm sure members of high profile teams get away with it too.

* Kelly points to a lower academic profile, but honestly a kid with a mid-20s ACT should be able to perform reasonably well at ND, particularly in a less strenuous major. I think a 25 ACT kid can find a course load that they can get through with a 3.0 GPA. The bigger issue is the insane workload athletics puts on a student athlete. I had a tough time keeping up when I was just in the marching band, I can't imagine how hard it would be with the workload of a football player, not to mention the pure physical exhaustion they must be under. The semi-pro approach to college sports is killing the student in student athletes.


Misc. thoughts...

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 07:35 @ HumanRobot

Here at UCF, a full class load for all students is 12 hours. There is an expectation that students have to take summer classes at least one term. Personally, I think this is a BS requirement, allowing faculty to get extra pay by letting them teach in the summer. Anyway, my two kids are currently at UCF (frosh and jr.) and they only take 12 hours per term. I'm perfectly fine with that too. If they don't take any classes in the summer, they will graduate in 5 years. And other than cost, who cares if they finish in 4 or 5 years? So I'm really surprised that ND requires its athletes to take 15 hours, especially when they have 5 years of potential eligibility. That 15-hour requirement needs to change, imo.

I also like the "case management" approach, and the faculty and admin should be doing more to both monitor and help at risk students succeed. When I was a grad student at ND, I was a GTA for an intro psych course that most of the athletes took. I had to turn in weekly progress reports on the athletes to Mike DeCicco's office in the athletic dept. I assume that this monitoring is still being done, but I hope that they can do more, including regular advising/counseling.

Cheating seems to be pretty common everywhere now, but I think a factor is that detection has gotten much better. For example, faculty here use for paper submissions, and this may be a requirement. I just know that almost everyone uses it. In addition, in our college of business, all of the undergraduate core classes have their exams administered in our testing center, where the exams are online. Security is extremely tight in there, and we've evolved to the point where it is really difficult for kids to cheat now (although at first it seemed like we were just keeping one step ahead of them). If some of these kids put in the same effort in their classes that they put into cheating, they would do fine.


as a nit

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 07:44 @ oviedoirish

Most of those teaching faculty are probably grossly overpaid -- much like a waiter who needs a 20% tip to get to something like a livable wage.

When I was teaching, I actually focused on trying to make as many of my assignments as "uncheatable" as possible. I think old methods (namely paper writing) falls apart in the current Internet environment and that higher education should rethink the role of long form essays in large classes. Maybe it's the case that 100 or 200 level courses with hundreds of students shouldn't have term papers. Maybe that's better for the realm of 10-15 student classes where the instructor can spend time with each student helping develop. It's a very high standard, but I think higher ed needs to be willing to take the next steps and make it harder to cheat.


As to teaching faculty being overpaid...

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 10:58 @ HumanRobot

Did you mean underpaid, using waiters as the comparison? In any case, I think it really depends on the department. Education faculty may need the extra summer money, whereas business and engineering faculty, for example, probably don't. There is a large discrepancy in pay across disciplines, presumably based on the market.


tenured, research-oriented faculty might be

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 11:08 @ oviedoirish

And you might be right about business professors, but teaching faculty in any school are almost certainly getting the short end of a stick.

I taught a class at ND as an adjunct research faculty in the college of engineering. The pay was $9,000/course (this is on top of my salary as research faculty). Considering my responsibilities to my grant, I couldn't teach and maintain anything resembling a work/life balance and I'd say that even spending 60-80 hours a week at work overall (research and teaching), teaching one measly course probably ate up a third of my working time.

I'm sure that people get really efficient at teaching, but man, teaching 6 courses a year would be really intense and that's barely over the US median income. That said, I'm sure other schools have entirely different pay structures that might make teaching more lucrative. Maybe that's the case at UCF, so your mileage may vary.

I know that some huge breadwinner faculty make a lot of money, but by and large the rank and file faculty are victims in the whole higher ed structure at this point.


I think you have to separate teaching track from adjuncts

by Savage, Around Ye Olde Colonial College, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 13:42 @ HumanRobot

4k with no benefits (or even 9k as an additional teaching stipend, in your case) is a much different animal than a full-time instructor/lecturer/whatever-the-title.

(Edit to caveat the entire ensuing discussion: yes, yes, this is for CS, which is probably a different animal than comparative literature of philosophy of art history of ...)

Now I'm not at all going to argue that the latter are still underpaid, but it's not nearly as dire: per the latest Taulbee survey, at CS departments that "look like ND" (20+ tenure track faculty, private school), the median average for a NTT teaching faculty is actually 87k per year. (Aside: median department average is a ridiculously stupid metric devised by the CRA for the institutions to shield employees from actually knowing how underpaid they are ... </rant>)

We have a grad school colleague, one of your fellow Triple Domers, who just took a teaching job in our old department. His pay at his former employer is public-records accessible -- his salary in his former TT position was just under 80k. If we are to assume, even with the draw of going home to his alma mater, that he probably wasn't going to take too significant of a pay cut as the lone breadwinner in his family of 5 to head back to ND in a teaching role, then again we're not talking about the well-known plight of the adjunct here.

Similarly, UW-Madison has a "faculty associate" position (a lecturer by another administrative title) advertised right now, and looking at the public-records salary database, the current holders of those positions are making 76-87k.

So even as I'm actively advocating for those in my role in my department (as many know, I'm a teaching-track faculty member at a rather prominent institution), where we aren't close to the numbers listed above -- we actively seek out summer support in order to pay the rent and put food in the table, given the astronomical cost of living -- I still have to advise you to tap the breaks just a bit when you group all "teaching faculty" into one bin, because there's definitely a differentiation.



by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 13:57 @ Savage

I had a conversation with someone in a terminal masters program at our old school but it didn't sound like I had a shot at teaching track initially, it'd just be a collection of no benefits adjunct salaries. So there's a very interesting tale of haves/have nots in academia going on.


Yes, I completely agree with you.

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 12:04 @ HumanRobot

I guess I was thinking more of tenured faculty, and I now work in a business dept. where I know how much they make. So I take back my initial thoughts on summer teaching, because I do agree that most teaching faculty are underpaid, especially at community colleges and in fields other than business, engineering, and medical related. And even those faculty will tell you that they're underpaid relative to what they can make in the workforce.

Adjuncts are paid very poorly, and in my opinion doing that job is totally not worth the time requirements. I know this from my own experiences as an adjunct too.

K-12 teachers have it the worst. I get really pissed off when people criticize them, when I know how much time and effort they have to put in for very little pay, and often providing their own supplies. They should be paid much much more.


yeah, but they get summers off!

by HumanRobot @, Cybertron, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 12:21 @ oviedoirish

[ No text ]


My mother-in-law says that to my wife

by Brendan ⌂ @, The Chemical and Oil Refinery State, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 13:34 @ HumanRobot

My wife is a 5th grade teacher. Every time she says something about having to put a lesson plan together at night or spend every night for a week writing report card comments, her mother will chime in with something like "oh, boo hoo, give me two months of vacation and holidays off and see if I complain."

She sells it as trying to be funny, but it's pretty clearly passive-aggressive and I think my wife is going to knife her someday. Not even all the people close to the teachers really have any concept of how hard they work at it and the sacrifices they make. She has a master's degree and she's making half of what she could in private enterprise - and at one of the better-paying districts in the area.

Listen to the voice of Life, and you will hear Life crying, "Be!"


also, nit, but act isn't exactly a perfect judge

by JN @, Seattle, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 21:30 @ HumanRobot

Of intelligence


I believe HS GPA is a better predictor of college success.

by oviedoirish @, Oviedo, Florida, Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 07:40 @ JN

I like the class hour shifting idea.

by ⌂ @, Tuesday, May 19, 2015, 18:30 @ Jay

If so many players really are on pace to graduate in 3.5 years, I see no reason not to let them make up hours in the summer. The tricky part would probably be a matter of the available classes over the summer. But I've got to think they'd be able to take care of many of the philo/theo reqs during that time, along with a fair number of electives.

Actually, looking at the available catalog of courses, I think there'd be a ton of ability to work flexibly.

Sometimes I rhyme slow sometimes I rhyme quick.

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