The Unravelling of College Football Starts With All These Empty Stadiums

from Bloomberg News

By  Eben Novy-Williams

Jan. 3, 2017

The business model of college football, long a financial boon to universities, is breaking down. A weeklong look at the pressures of rising costs, falling revenue and what, if anything, universities can do about it. 

On a warm November Saturday in Boca Raton, 5,843 people turned out to see Florida Atlantic University play its final home football game of the year. With 80 percent of the seats empty, it was the Owls’ smallest audience since the team jumped to college football’s top division in 2005.

A week later and a world away, the Florida State Seminoles played their last home game in front of a crowd of more than 78,000. The student section alone had three times as many fans as FAU had in its whole stadium.

With the fanfare building for the College Football Championship on Monday, it’s hard to remember that packed stadiums like Florida State’s are the exception. FAU’s empty stands are the rule, and lackluster ticket sales are starting to take a financial toll on programs across the country.

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On Self-Inflicted Wounds: Precarious Faculty and Academic Freedom

From Remaking the University (blog)

By Christopher Newfield and Michael Meranze

Since the election there has been much discussion of higher education’s self-inflicted wounds. Mark Lilla and Nicholas Kristof, have trotted out the usual cherry-picked examples of alleged intolerance on (mostly elite) campuses as signs that universities exist at a distance from the real world.  Both have ignored the realities of life for most students and faculty, a point that shouldn’t surprise us I suppose.  After all they are both locked into the New York media bubble whose gaze seems to extend all the way from Cambridge to Washington D.C.  These screeds would simply be unhelpful and annoying if they didn’t serve to distract attention from more fundamental problems facing higher education today. For it is time for faculty and others committed to the future of universities and colleges to think more clearly about what needs to be changed in our own self-organization as we move forward.

One of the most glaring, if also most often ignored in public debate, is the working conditions of precarious faculty and its relationship to questions of academic freedom.  It is no secret that the large majority of teaching in colleges and universities is done by contingent labor (either graduate students or non-tenure track faculty).  Yet as both Bob Samuels and Lee Kottner have recently pointed out, the particular threats that contingency poses to academic freedom has been largely ignored.  Yet there can be little question that it is contingent faculty, not tenure track, let alone tenured, faculty who face the greatest dangers regarding their freedom to teach and to write.  After all, the very point of hiring contingent faculty is to preclude obligations to ensure them long-term or full-time employment.

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Editorial: Keep guns off college campuses

[Preface: UFF President Jennifer Profitt has continuously led the charge against guns on campus and will continue to do so]

from The Gainsville Sun

By Nathan Crabbe

College campuses are no places for guns. State university presidents, faculty members and chiefs of police tend to agree, as do the vast majority of Floridians.

Yet campus-carry proponents are again trying to force the issue, despite such legislation being defeated in the past two sessions. One bill introduced for the upcoming session would allow guns to be openly carried on college and university campuses as well as airport passenger terminals, K-12 schools, legislative meetings and local government meetings.

Advocates for gun rights and gun control should be able to find common ground in agreeing that these measures go too far. After all, nearly three-quarters of Floridians oppose allowing concealed weapons to be carried on college campuses, according to last year’s USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey.

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Meaningless metrics mask troublesome trends in higher education

from Florida Politics

By Florence Snyder

Florida changes higher education funding formulas nearly as often as Kardashians change clothes. At the Department of Making Things Incomprehensible, Metrics Mavens have their hands full monkeying around with the Ten Metrics that determine which universities get the rich gravy, and which get the thin gruel.

Florida’s Ten Metrics appear to have been written by the folks who write insurance policies, credit card contracts and the scoring system for figure skating. We could get the same results cheaper with an actual tribe of monkeys throwing stuff against the wall.

For university boards of trustees, The Metrics may as well have been brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses himself. They are carved in stone, at least for the current budget cycle.

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Holiday Party 2016


Join us for the 2016 United Faculty of Florida – Florida Atlantic University Holiday Party!

WHERE: Villagio Ristorante, 344 East Plaza Real (Mizner Park in Boca)
WHEN: Friday, December 9th, 7:00 – 11:00 PM
WHO: You (and your significant other is welcome too!)
WHY: To celebrate the Season, enjoy the company of fellow Union members, partake in excellent food and drink

Click link for FREE tickets to attend: (Hurry! Seats are filling quickly)

Impacts of Prestige Seeking in Higher Education

Academe Blog

By Desiree Zerquera

With fall recruitment in full swing, many colleges and universities may be eager to tout their updated facilities, star faculty, and standings among one of the many rankings that evaluate higher education on the basis of a variety of metrics across lists and sublists. However, the cost of earned rankings and expensive amenities during times of increased financial restraint and stratification of opportunity in higher education warrant scrutiny.

In 1956, the late sociologist David Riesman depicted higher education as a snake-like procession in which colleges and universities within lower tiers of the academic hierarchy imitate those within higher tiers. He explained this imitation game as one that persists within a system based on imitating top-ranked institutions on elements that may have more to do with perceptions and less to do with serving students.

This depiction rings ever true today. Contemporary scholars have described this as prestige seeking—collective activities engaged in that are thought to enhance rankings and public perceptions. Recent analysis of data from the National Center for Educational Statistics show that all types of four-year colleges and universities engaged in prestige seeking over the past decade, which can be seen in changes in undergraduate selectivity, increased investment in research revenue, and the development or investment in men’s football teams.

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Sign Up!: Union Family Bowling Event


UFF-FAU is excited to announce a family-friendly social event. On November 5, 2016, the union will gather with their families at Strikes at Boca for an afternoon of socializing, laser-light bowling, and a bit to eat. We’ll begin at 12:30pm and shoes and lanes will be provided until 3:30pm. Food and soft drinks will be provided with additional options available for purchase ((

We’ve reserved a fixed number of spots so we do ask that you RSVP at the link below.

WHERE: Strikes at Boca (21046 Commercial Trail Boca Raton, FL, 33486)
WHEN: Saturday, November 5, 12:30 – 3:30 PM
WHO: You AND your family
WHY: To meet union members, have fun, and to bowl a strike

If you have any questions, please contact event organizer, Ethan Fenichel at or as always, Bob Zoeller, UFF-FAU President at

Living in an Extreme Meritocracy is Exhausting

The Atlantic

Victor Tan Chen

A century ago, a man named Frederick Winslow Taylor changed the way workers work. In his book The Principles of Scientific Management, Taylor made the case that companies needed to be pragmatic and methodical in their efforts to boost productivity. By observing employees’ performance and whittling down the time and effort involved in doing each task, he argued, management could ensure that their workers shoveled ore, inspected bicycle bearings, and did other sorts of “crude and elementary” work as efficiently as possible. Soldiering—a common term in the day for the manual laborer’s loafing—would no longer be possible under the rigors of the new system, Taylor wrote.

The principles of data-driven planning first laid out by Taylor—whom the management guru Peter Drucker once called the “Isaac Newton … of the science of work”—have transformed the modern workplace, as managers have followed his approach of assessing and adopting new processes that squeeze greater amounts of productive labor from their employees. And as the metrics have become more precise in their detail, their focus has shifted beyond the tasks themselves and onto the workers doing those tasks, evaluating a broad range of their qualities (including their personality traits) and tying corporate carrots and sticks—hires, promotions, terminations—to those ratings.

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Can Productivity Be Measured?

from Inside Higher Ed

October 25, 2016

“Since the first decade of the new millennium, the words ranking, evaluation, metrics, h-index and impact factors have wreaked havoc in the world of higher education and research.”

So begins a new English edition of Bibliometrics and Research Evaluation: Uses and Abuses from Yves Gingras, professor and Canada Research Chair in history and sociology of science at the University of Quebec at Montreal. The book was originally published in French in 2014, and while its newest iteration, published by the MIT Press, includes some new content, it’s no friendlier to its subject. Ultimately, Bibliometrics concludes that the trend toward measuring anything and everything is a modern, academic version of “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” in which — quoting Hans Christian Andersen, via Gingras — “the lords of the bedchamber took greater pains than ever to appear holding up a train, although, in reality there was no train to hold.”

Gingras says, “The question is whether university leaders will behave like the emperor and continue to wear each year the ‘new clothes’ provided for them by sellers of university rankings (the scientific value of which most of them admit to be nonexistent), or if they will listen to the voice of reason and have the courage to explain to the few who still think they mean something that they are wrong, reminding them in passing that the first value in a university is truth and rigor, not cynicism and marketing.”

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In Solidarity!: Faculty on Strike at 14 Pennsylvania State Universities

from The New York Times


WEST CHESTER, Pa. — Professors at 14 Pennsylvania state universities went on strike Wednesday, disrupting classes midsemester for more than 100,000 students, after contract negotiations hit an impasse.

The Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties announced its members went on strike at 5 a.m. because no agreement was reached with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The union represents more than 5,000 faculty and coaches across the state.

This is the first strike in the system’s 34-year history. State-related schools — Penn State, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh and Lincoln University — are not affected.

The state said despite the strike, students should report to their scheduled classes, unless the university indicates otherwise.

“We are headed to the picket lines, but even on the picket lines, our phones will be on, should the State System decide it doesn’t want to abandon its students,” union president Kenneth Mash said in a statement.

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