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Utopia Community College

Dean Dad daydreams about the ideal community college beyond small classes, on site child care, and good public transportation.


Excelencia In Education aims to accelerate higher education success for Latino students. Excelencia links research, policy, and practice to serve Latino students and the institutions and programs where they participate.

Of special interest is the “What Works” section that contains reports on effective education programs for Latino students from Early Childhood to Higher Education.

Student Evaluations of Professors

To counterbalance reviews on Web sites like (RMP), some institutions ponder publishing students’ evaluations of professors. Some professors express their concerns:

“One communications faculty member said there are studies that say negative comments linger longer than positive comments, and that a few bad comments could color the perception of that teacher disproportionately”

Thomas Bauman, professor of musicology and chair of the General Faculty Committee, said that faculty members are discussing whether there should be exceptions to any mandate, such as for adjuncts, or first-time teachers “who might feel they need a buffer of some kind.”

Yes, I have visited the website to check on professors and to check if anyone rated me for my teaching a few years ago (no one did). But to be honest, the reviews found there can’t be taken too seriously. Consider this:

  • Anyone with an e-mail can rate any professors at RMP. The site does not verify whether a rater is actually a student. I’ve never rated a professor but I wonder if it is possible that one person with multiple e-mails can post multiple reviews?
  • Rating is voluntary. My guess is that students that failed or struggled with a course are more likely to take the time and register their complaint than those that are satisfied with their experience.
  • Even university administered student evaluations of faculty have their share of problems.

Just out of curiosity, I checked the RMP reviews for my professors at RPI. One of my professors had only 1 review that said: “Excellent clarity”. Most of my classmates back then would disagree with that evaluation, but that person’s experience is the only one registered at the site. Good luck to whoever takes this professor’s class expecting clarity. :-)

RMP does maintain a funniest ratings list that is worth reading.

Student Loans vs. SAHMs

Educated women considering the option to become a Stay At Home Mom (SAHM) have one more thing to worry about other than lost income and retirement savings: student loan repayment.

Tom Mortenson suggests:

Perhaps the federal government could treat the first four years of a child’s life as if the mother were still in college and not require education loan repayment for this period. Or perhaps the federal government could make the loan payments for the mother during this period.

A deferement or an extended repayment period (with smaller payments) could also be solutions.

Notes on History of Higher Ed

I’m taking a course in History of Higher Education in the US. So far, we’ve read about Higher Ed from the foundation of the Colonial Colleges (beginning with Harvard in 1636) to the end of the 19th century. Some things that stand out:

  1. Most colleges in that period, even state colleges, started as religious institutions. Their main purpose was to educate clergymen and political leaders.
  2. The US had an inordinate amount of colleges and university per capita, when compared to European countries.
  3. Until late in the 19th century, college was free to the students. The state, private donations, community/congregational support, and the faculty (yes! The faculty!) financed the schools.
  4. As I wrote previously, for a time higher education wasn’t considered a noble or practical pursuit.
  5. Other than students seeking professional degrees (i.e. doctors and lawyers), students took the same curriculum: the classics (Greek, Latin, philosophy, etc.) Not very practical for an expanding country was it? That could explain #3 and #4, right?

Lifetime Earnings of College Graduates

Over an adult’s working life:

  • high school graduates earn an average of $1.2 million
  • associate’s degree holders earn about $1.6 million
  • bachelor’s degree holders earn about $2.1 million

Source: Census Bureau. The Big Payoff: Educational
Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings

Scholarship at the end of the 19th century

Of Yale at the end of the [19th] century it was remarked: “The life of the campus was so dynamic and vital that even professors … at heart half accepted that ideas, the search for truth and scholarship must be among the lesser products of their show.”

Rudolph, Frederick. (1962) The American College and University: A History

In 19th century America, the success of the self-made man led to the perception of higher education as a diversion. At that time going to college was not the way to move up on life; on the contrary it took young men away from the pursuit of wealth.

UCLA Professors

McCarthy was the first word that came to mind when I read about UCLA’s Bruin Alumni Association project to “expose radical professors” . I don’t think it has anything to do with professors proselytizing in the classroom; it is just a witch hunt to ridicule liberal professors. This is the type of thing that happened in the old Soviet Union, not in the USA.

Hello World!

I’ll use this blog to reflect on news about Higher Education with a special interest on Higher Ed in Florida and developements for engineering students, women and Hispanics. In other words: Higher Ed news that affect me! Well, not really. I’m no longer an engineering student, but I plan to study engineering education from an educator’s perspective.

PS. What is a Florirican? A Floridian from Puerto Rico, and no you can’t find that word in the dictionary. I grew up in Puerto Rico and went to school there until I finished my BS in Computer Engineering. In 1998 I came to the US to do my Masters in Engineering (at RPI) and work (at Lucent Technologies). After living in Chicagoland for 4+ years I moved to Florida in 2003.