Thursday, October 9, 2014

Austeritas delenda est!

I need to be writing an essay right now.  I can't.  My thoughts are elsewhere.

The state of Maine has financial problems, but the University of Maine System does not.  All of the bullshit about us needing to cut is just that, bullshit.  They're firing fifty teachers.  How many non-teacher staff get the ax is not yet known.

They're cutting profitable programs.

They're actually actively working to make the university lose money in the future.  They're trying to make it fail.  What no one really knows is why.  All of the theories that can explain things sound like conspiracy theories.  What does it say when the only plausible explanations are conspiracy theories?

Applied Medical Sciences: Cut in totality.
American and New England Studies: Cut in totality.
Arts and Humanities at the LAC campus: Cut in totality.
Communications and Media studies: 13% cut.
Community Planning and Development: Cut in totality
Computer Science: 40% cut
Criminology: 40% cut.
Economics: 44% cut.
Education: only 9% cut.
English: 28% cut.
Geoscience: Cut in totality.
History: 14% cut.
EVERY SINGLE FUCKING LANGUAGE: Cut in totality.  With them the Only Art historian, the entire classics program in the state of main comprising not just multiple campuses but four distinct UMaine universities.
Leadership and blah, blah. blah: 20% cut.
Music: 20% cut.
Natural and Applies Science: 33% cut.
Philosophy: 17% cut.
Physics: 40% cut.  (Physics is the poster child for this bullshit because it's massively profitable.)
Psychology: 25% cut.
Political Science: 20% cut.
Public Policy and Management: Cut in totality.
Social and Behavioral Science: 17% cut.
Sociology: 44% cut.
Technology: 33% cut.
Theatre: 17% cut.

The things that are actually losing money?  0% cut.

It is at times like these that one is tempted to fall back on the old standbys and utter the famous Anglo-Saxon tetragrammaton that starts with F and rhymes with luck, however perhapse a more elevated style is called for.

Ceterum autem censeo austeritatem esse delendam.


  1. Googled this, found the Inside Higher Ed article of 3 days ago.

    The English, philosophy and history departments would be combined into a single humanities department, Provost Joseph W. McDonnell said in an email to faculty Monday. The new humanities department would have just 22.5 professors, compared to the 29 in the three departments being merged.

    The chemistry, math and physics majors could become just one major – and maybe that same major should also subsume the natural and applied science program, the provost suggested.


    1. I talked to a freshman math major yesterday. A lot was said, but something that addresses what you quoted was this:

      She wants to learn math. She has no interest in or aptitude for physics or chemistry.

      People are not stupid. If they know that someone who spent four years studying Math knows more math than someone who spent four years studying MathPhysicsChemistry.

      It would be one thing if they were offering a new and different (and presumably hard as hell) interdisciplinary program that taught you as much in each subject as someone who majored in just one. But they're not.

    2. That would be impressive as hell ... but if they're not happy with the rate at which they produce physics majors now (which, as the article points out, is on par with physics departments generally for degrees-per-professor-year), I can't imagine what they'd think of the graduation rates for what would effectively be a triple-major program. Looking at the degree requirements at the University of Maryland, there is a huge amount of overlap (even before noting that chemists are supposed to take some physics classes and vice-versa), but I'm counting rough minimums of 27 credits of general education, 42 credits of chemistry classes, the 4-credit Biology I class, 43 credits of physics, and 36 credits of mathematics ... over 150 credit-hours of coursework. That's 25% more credits than the mechanical engineering program I was in, and that program (according to the ASME lounge regulars) already took five years to finish most of the time.

      You could probably say something similar about the humanities, except that English, Philosophy, and History majors probably have way less overlap in their program requirements.

  2. They're actually actively working to make the university lose money in the future. They're trying to make it fail. What no one really knows is why. All of the theories that can explain things sound like conspiracy theories. What does it say when the only plausible explanations are conspiracy theories?

    Looking at the Google articles on USM for the past five years ... could it be embezzlement? One of the points I keep seeing all over the place is that the reserve fund for the university (its "unrestricted net position") keeps increasing (over $183 million last year), but the administrators are unwilling to consider withdrawing funds from it. Heck, looking at the 2013 Financial Report, nearly 30% of that is in the category called "Educational and general reserves". But if the administrators have been looting those funds, then those reserves don't exist ... and they have no choice but to find the money that said reserved were supposed to cover some other way.

    Or be arrested. Right now, I wouldn't shed any tears at that outcome.

  3. What is "natural and applied science" - is that biology? I have a BMath. I'm working on a biology degree now. There is exactly one topic in common between my degrees: statistics. If you tried to merge those into one major, you would lose a lot of good stuff.

    I just can't imagine what a major in "a bunch of random science and math stuff" would be like.