Read this. Please.
No clever videos or asinine pictures or really naughty words. Just something to consider. And you heard it here first.
Bruce Speck will give you his “vision” for the U at this weekend’s retreat (from reality). It will be bullshit. He will talk about being student-centric.
We don’t buy what he’s selling, but it is apparent he is selling. We advise everyone to go to pbs.org while there still is one and watch Frontline: College. Inc. It is scary. It is about for-profit schools, but it is unmistakably where this administration wants to steer the MSSU ship.
Here is an excerpt from the transcript, available here. Note: Current University of Phoenix officials wouldn’t speak with the media. Sound familiar?
MARK DeFUSCO, Dir., University of Phoenix, 1994-02: It was not by accident that this university developed in the Southwest and the West. That’s where people go to reinvent themselves, and that’s where John reinvented the university.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] Why did the university need to be reinvented? What’s wrong with the way that universities were running up until the time that John Sperling came along with Phoenix?
MARK DeFUSCO: John saw the constraints of most- most college professors. You know, anybody who’s got any new ideas in college are quickly beaten down. The academy hasn’t had a real change in how it works for almost 500 years.
MARTIN SMITH: [voice-over] Mark DeFusco arrived at the University of Phoenix in the mid-’90s with a Ph.D. in education from USC, but he quickly embraced the Phoenix model.
MARK DeFUSCO: Phoenix, people go to school all year round. We started classes every five weeks. And instead of starting classes in September, in January, we started classes in January, February, March, sometimes two in April.
If we had more students than we could handle, we’ll build another site and handle some more. We built campuses by a freeway because we figured that’s where the people were. So if you went by any major freeway in the Southwest, you’re going to find a University of Phoenix campus. We put schools 20 minutes apart because that’s about as far as people could drive at rush hour.
MARTIN SMITH: To keep costs low, the University of Phoenix hired teachers on short-term contracts. They did away with tenure.
MARK DeFUSCO: I didn’t have to worry about tenure. If they weren’t getting to the outcomes I needed, I just wouldn’t give them another contract.
MARTIN SMITH: And where it takes a traditional university months or years to get a new course approved by faculty, at Phoenix they could generate one in a matter of days.
MARK DeFUSCO: We would put a group of faculty members, a group of experts, into a room in a hotel for a weekend, and we wouldn’t let them out until they came up with a new curriculum.
MARTIN SMITH: The university was not bound by bricks and mortar, either. Students who couldn’t attend a Phoenix campus could log into courses on line.
MARK DeFUSCO: We were designing the coursework around the people who were going to use it.
MARTIN SMITH: [on camera] The customer.
MARK DeFUSCO: You bet.
[SouthernWatch staff note: We will continue to look at this situation in subsequent posts. We will also examine other serious issues. But we will continue to also provide pointed commentary and satire. Posts like this one, of a serious nature, will remain without pictures or video out of respect for their importance.]