In the New York Times, an article on a report from the National Commission on Higher Education Attainment (now there’s a great name) on the need to increase graduation rates. The group’s chair is Ohio State University president E. Gordon Gee:
The report, “College Completion Must Be Our Priority,” which will be released on Thursday, calls on colleges and universities to find ways to give students credit for previous learning, through exams like the College Board’s College-Level Examination Program, portfolio assessments or other college equivalency evaluations. It also calls for more services and flexibility for nontraditional students, suggesting innovations like midnight classes, easier credit transfers and more efficient course delivery, including online classes.I’m struck by two things in Gee’s remarks:
“These are all very important things, they’re all unusual, and they’re things we’re not doing,” Dr. Gee said. “We concentrate most on the admissions side of things, getting the bodies in, and there’s no one in charge of seeing that they get through and graduate. I’m going to call this person the completion dean.”
1. The frank language of business: “getting the bodies in” and moving them out (while still warm of course). Here is the language of credentialism at its worst. The life of the mind? The pursuit of knowledge? Not so much.
2. The assumption that there must be someone “in charge” to see to it that students graduate. Thus the solution to any academic problem: more administration.
Gee’s Wikipedia article makes interesting reading. You can find the report here.