It seems like just yesterday that hard times hit the Moms at Roxie's World, inspiring the first of many posts on "Excellence without Money," not only at Queer the Turtle U but also at a university near you! Dog knows, kids, the moms weren't alone in noticing the trend: Historiann even designed a nifty logo for the Excellence without Money initiative.
This may be hard to believe, but more than two years have passed - that's 14 dog years, and in the meantime I died - and yet here I am, and here all of you are, still hearing about how we have to do more with less. The latest and greatest version of this to come across my typist's desk is an initiative from the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education. Here's a little taste of the Institute's mission: "By focusing its expertise on the development of assessment-based action plans with measurable outcomes, the Institute fosters institutional change by enhancing accountability, coordination, and the delivery of efforts associated with student learning, success, and retention during the undergraduate experience. While the Institute undertakes activities to strengthen all of undergraduate education, it places particular emphasis on special efforts to improve the success of beginning college students."
The initiative is called Foundations of Excellence, and it's coming (or has already been) to a community college or four-year university near you! Institutions compete to pay the Gardner Institute thousands of dollars for the privilege of their guidance through a self-study process aimed at enhanced assessment practices and improved retention of first-year and transfer students: "Now more than ever in challenging economic times, your campus needs an action plan for the critical beginning college experience."
You may be wondering why my typist keeps linking to the Gardner Institutes's websites. Funnily enough, there is pretty much no external reportage to be found about the Foundations of Excellence initiative - not even over at the The Chronicle of Higher Education or at Inside Higher Ed. You will find, if you do a search of the Inside Higher Ed site, this nifty opinion piece by John N. Gardner and Andrew K. Koch from January of this year, which basically outlines all of the reasons why institutions need the Gardner Institute. Note: the authors of the piece are John N. Gardner himself and the vice president for new strategies, development, and policy initiatives of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education.
Can I see a show of paws from those of you who feel like you're chasing your tails? I know they say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, and I suspect that it's even more difficult to teach a dead dog new tricks, but it does seem to this here wire-haired fox terrier, from where she sits in the great dog park in the sky, that this "initiative" is more of the same - more burden on faculty to focus their attention away from the classroom, away from research, and even away from their home institutions, more edicts to accomplish their work without adequate resources, and more emphasis on documentation rather than on education. Tenure won't save you from this, my pretties, nor will unionization, even if you take my advice from this comparatively hopeful post from just a few months ago. It's already happening.
I don't know about you, but I think we could all use a little something to cheer us up. Since my typist doesn't like to drown her sorrows this early in the day, how about an uplifting little ditty about the godliness of dogs? It is Sunday, after all.
Roxie as channeled by Dr. Crazy