new york times

new york times

Ray Browne, Father of Pop Culture Dies at 87

Pop Culture Founder, Ray Browne

Pop Culture Founder, Ray Browne

Pop culture is possibly my favorite subject. There’s just something fun and intriguing about studying the Muppets, Grey’s Anatomy, or sports. At my school, there is a course focusing on the Twilight phenomenon and youth culture and a course studying The Beatles’ impact on music in the 1960s. Some might think these are classes that should not be taught on a college campus, but many think that they are a great way to analyze how current trends affect our culture.

The first man to define pop culture as an academic discipline was Ray Browne, a professor at Bowling Green State University. Browne died on October 22, 2009, from natural causes. Browne founded the first department of pop culture studies in 1973.

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Harvard’s Endowment and the Education Bubble

harvard endowmentFueled by endowment gains and tuition increases, universities in recent years have gone on a building, faculty and program expansion spree. I have personally seen it in the law school realm. Instead of the historical 12-credit loads, the norm over the past few years in law schools has trended towards nine to ten credits. This allowed for more research, but also meant that the faculty needed to expand to continue offering the same course levels. Salaries also rose as law schools and other areas of universities competed for top talent.

But the same forces buffeting the general economy are affecting the university.

Yale recently froze all faculty salaries for employees paid more than $75,000, and Harvard froze all faculty salaries at its arts and sciences school. The big private, elite universities appear to be particularly at risk. To understand why, let’s take a look at the Harvard endowment.

Read more at New York Times



Columbia’s First Black and First Female Dean Announced

Columbia University has named Michelle M. Moody-Adams, formerly Cornell University’s vice provost for undergraduate education, as dean of Columbia College, the first black person and the first woman to serve in the post.

Dr. Moody-Adams, 52, a philosopher, has also run Cornell’s program on ethics and public life. Her 1997 book, “Fieldwork in Familiar Places: Morality, Culture and Philosophy,” was roundly praised in the field. She will become dean of the college on July 1.

Columbia College is one of the university’s three undergraduate colleges, with 4,000 students, and one of the most competitive schools in the country, admitting 9 percent of applicants for this year’s freshman class.

Read this story at New York Times.



Financial Institutions Refuse Loans to Community College Students

According to a recent article in the New York Times, some major financial institutions have been dealing with the credit crunch by refusing student loans to students at community colleges, for-profit online universities, and other schools that are considered less prestigious. In some cases, students at these schools have received student loans, but with higher interest rates and less favorable terms. Some banks are more eager to drop students loans than others. In California, Citibank has dropped its student loan program for all community colleges in the state.

Why are lending institutions doing this? It’s all about money, of course. Yes, many of the loans made to students at “less desirable” institutions are smaller—especially loans made to community college student, since these schools are less expensive and only require two years to get a degree. However, students at more elite schools are considered lower risk because these students are (according to the banks) more likely to earn more money in the long run.

Come again?

If this trend continues, the ramifications are quite troubling. It means that the people who need the loans most won’t be able to get them. Many of these people won’t go to school, which will further exacerbate the gap between the rich and the poor. And many of these students will go to school and either wind up deeply in debt or work long hours to be able to afford the expense. Long hours at a job may take away students’ ability to do well in school—and at the community college level, this may mean a student can’t transfer to a four year college.

It’s not illegal for banks to reject categories of students for student loans. But the ethics of this are, of course, questionable.





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