UT-ORNL have proposed a new large-scale graduate program focused on "energy" concerns. This sort of program is quite in vogue and may be the new way that universities start addressing vast and complex problems in the future.

However, our grand reps in Nashville have spoken and, as usual, they don't have UT and the potential for 200 new professorial jobs and hundreds of graduate students in their concerns.

Burchett: "It just seems like we're creating an entity to go after federal dollars."

"When we're bringing in the world's best and brightest graduate students, we're not educating Tennesseans."

StaceyX: "A lot of people are asking why, if we are going to be firing people left and right and cutting back on mental health (services), we are going to be hiring people at UT-Battelle."



continued...

First, let's dismiss StaceyX. Only Campfield could conflate a long-term structural issue like mental health services, and this matter. Just another example of how a UT education (does he have one?) fails the state.

Now on to Burchett: No, shit. Federal money drives research and attracts the best professors and graduate students. I don't like Burchett because he is professionally disingenuous on a regular basis, but this is beyond the pale. Maybe he should ask his father how a university works.

The senator, whose father was dean of students for many years at UT, said that the program would be another step away from UT's traditional mission as "a land grant institution" devoted to providing a college education to state students.

OK. I have had to fight this battle with other poster who do not understand that a land-grant institution has only one educational constraint and that is geared toward agriculture. Rutgers, for example, is a land-grant institution, in a state with, um, limited agriculture to say the least. Otherwise, UT's mission begins with research. See UT's mission statement.

And finally:

"When we're bringing in the world's best and brightest graduate students, we're not educating Tennesseans."

I am just going to leave this one as one of the dumbest things I have heard from Burchett in a while. Wow. Two points: Great graduate students both teach intro courses as part of their training and free up professors with their lab work to teach the upper-level courses that produce well-educated Tenneesseans. Second, I guess he doesn't think there is any possibility that those well-educated UT students could be those same graduate students? Of course not.

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SnM's picture

Snark

Bredesen Proposes "Center of Remedial Accounting Excellence" for UTK
"With Knox County schools' bookkeeping problems, they're going to need it," says governor

From APB reports. KNOXVILLE - In the wake of an audit revealing that most Knox County schools can't account for the hours in a day much less the money in their activity funds, Governor Bredesen has proposed that a "Center of Remedial Accounting Excellence" be created at the University of Tennessee's Knoxville campus...

Stick's picture

News Flash

Burchett: "It just seems like we're creating an entity to go after federal dollars."

The education legislation that was just rammed through our esteemed legislature was justified by its potential of landing federal dollars! Arrrrrggggh! [Banging head against desk!]

metulj's picture

That's my point. Burchett is

That's my point. Burchett is so dumb about this. $6 million invested now gets, I don't know, $250 million in grants from the feds. He just got put into my "Unqualified to Run a Petting Zoo" file. Who's the Democrat running in the County Mayor race, oh, wait...

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Stimulating the economy as best we can!

Further stimulation with Yoga Wear!

reform4's picture

Just a point about grad students...

Great graduate students both teach intro courses as part of their training and free up professors with their lab work to teach the upper-level courses that produce well-educated Tenneesseans.

I don't know what most UT grad's experience has been, but as a graduate from the engineering curriculum, a few points:

  • Good graduate researchers don't necessarily make the best instructors. Usually, the more brilliant they are at research, the more they suck at teaching intro courses, because they spend 100% of their energy trying to show you how brilliant they are at particle-widget-heuristics-whatever to actually teach the basic material. My notebooks are filled with sidebar notes like 'this guy couldn't find his way home with a map and a seeing eye dog'
  • Graduate students free up senior professor's time, but not to teach more senior classes, but to spend more time hunting research dollars or consulting (until they get convicted for violating the Arms Export Act, like a previous prof of mine).
  • When I left the U of T, I was firmly convinced that their top three priorities were (1) Football, (2) Research dollars, and (3) Football. Educating Tennesseans isn't even on the list. Don't know if it's still that way, but I don't see much evidence to the contrary. If a UT student gets a good education these days, it's by either sheer accident and the determined effort by a small minority of idealistic graduate students and the small 'old school' profs who still believe in teaching.
metulj's picture

YMMV, but graduate students

YMMV, but graduate students do pull pressure off professors. If you teach two 101 courses (like I do) it takes about 20 hours out of your work week. I am finishing my dissertation so I devote the rest of the week to that (when I can). Engineering departments are notorious though for bad pedagogical skills. The material is tough stuff and there is a clear disdain for liberal arts in their curricula. Very much an authoritarian climate: "Do exactly this. Don't question it." Still, my best students always come from the engineering school because they are grinders with excellent note taking and study habits. I even had one tell me that it was a "defensive mechanism" because of the poor teachers he had to endure.

True happiness is knowing you are a hypocrite. -- Ivor Cutler

Stimulating the economy as best we can!

Further stimulation with Yoga Wear!

ma am's picture

Education's staying power

I came here in 1996 from another state for one of those internship thingies in science research. Though I am not native, I am still here, contributing to our local economy by buying chocolate at the KCFC, junk at the outdoor store, and the occasional house or car. Like these potential profs, I write grants for a living and bring research dollars into my institution. As a part of this research, I have mentored a number of local students, who have gone on to have successful careers in various scientific endeavors, here and elsewhere. The impact of this should be crystal clear.

The fact that scientists have to spend large chunks of time chasing money is a problem and we could debate this, but it is not going to change the way research and teachign are conducted in this country or in this state. If you want research dollars, the educated group academic research brings, the money they spend while living here, the publicity from successful research, and researchers' influence on our local students, then obviously, you make higher education jobs here as attractive as possible. It's hard to see how this could be construed as a problem.

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