Worst Colleges Ever (for Profs)?

A think tank is where scholars go and think. The Center for College Affordability and Productivity is one such tank and they compiled a list of schools with the best and worst professors. To get their scores they searched RateMyProfessors.com. The list:

25 universities with the worst professors

1. U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (NY)
2. Michigan Technological University
3. U.S. Coast Guard Academy (CT)
4. Milwaukee School of Engineering
5. New Jersey Institute of Technology
6. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (NY)
7. Widener University (PA)
8. St. Cloud University (MN)
9. Bentley University (MA)
10. Indiana State University
11. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (MA)
12. Central Michigan University
13. Minnesota State University, Mankato
14. Pace University (NY)
15. Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ)
16. Seton Hall University (NJ)
17. Westminster College (PA)
18. Howard University (DC)
19. Iowa State University
20. University of Toledo (OH)
21. Truman State University (MO)
22. Illinois State University
23. University of Connecticut
24. Oregon Institute of Technology
25. University of Maryland

Every now and then I’ve chatted with a Merchant Marine grad. I’ve heard no gripes.

The University of Phoenix Rises

University of Phoenix logoOne of my co-workers shared with me the story of chatting with his University of Phoenix professor. He privately asked his teacher (who was lecturing about global corporations) how he would go about getting a job at one such company. And his professor responded: Well, first you don’t get a Masters from University of Phoenix. 

I personally have no problem with for-profit universities. They assist in educating folks who might otherwise not get a degree. And they are often technical, rather than humanity driven:

The growth of student-loan debt has raised a vexing question: Is a college degree still a good investment? No segment of American higher education has faced greater scrutiny than for-profit colleges and universities.

For-profits differ from traditional institutions in important respects. They are accountable chiefly to shareholders, who expect a return on their investment; their stocks are usually traded publicly; and they face no restrictions in setting executive pay. In addition, their admissions standards generally are much lower than those of comparable nonprofit schools. While for-profits only accept students with a high school diploma or equivalent, they are otherwise nonselective. The average acceptance rate for for-profits in 2007-08 was slightly above 74 percent, the highest of any sector and roughly 5 percentage points higher than public universities.

Most important, for-profits’ academic goals are distinct: they explicitly seek to equip students with vocational skills. To that end, they emphasize technical training over the liberal arts.

The important thing is that the students get an education. I am currently in a Masters program and I am not entirely sure it is useful.

Desmond Bryant, Harvard Grad

If you graduate from college or join the military, you represent (to a certain degree) that institution to the public. Whatever you do reflects well or the opposite upon it. And likewise, you receive reflection the other way. If you are in the Navy, you receive goodwill from folks who think well of the Navy. When I read that 6’6, 310 pound defensive lineman Desmond Bryant is a drooling idiot, and a Harvard grad, I shook my head:

Desmond Bryant, Harvard grad, Ghassan Hitto
Desmond Bryant, Harvard

At one point, the lawsuit says, the shirtless Bryant tried to yank open the door while the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Isaac Bakar struggled to stop him from the inside and yelled things like, ”go away” and ”leave my family alone.”

Bryant, 27, was arrested on a misdemeanor criminal mischief charge, and his mug shot with eyes half closed and tongue sticking out went viral. Nonetheless, he signed a deal last week with the Cleveland Browns worth $34 million over five years, with $15 million guaranteed.

Bryant previously played for the Oakland Raiders and went to Harvard University. He has 124 career tackles and 10.5 sacks.

Harvard ain’t what it used to be. Des does not bring glory well upon her. As far as college alums go, the jury’s still out on whether Ghassan Hitto garners Purdue kudos or not.

Testy College Professors

Not Lynne Rosenthal, but Old Yeller

I’ve had a couple of college professors who were yellers. Not Old Yellers, but loud yellers.

And I imagine Columbia professor Lynne Rosenthal probably falls into that wacky category: College English professor and Columbia Ph.D Lynne Rosenthal refused to use Starbucks terms to order her bagel. When she was asked, “butter or cheese?” she said she just wanted a multigrain bagel, and refused say “without butter or cheese. . . Then, she got really mad and started yelling. . .”

My Harvard Story

Guess what city has sent the most blogreaders to this blog in the last two weeks?

If you guessed Cambridge, Massachusetts, you would be correct. For the unwashed, Cambridge is home to Hah-vad, the ivy league of ivy leagues.

This blog is nothing if not confessional, so I might as well slip in another one. I went to Harvard Summer School one year, one hot Mass sticky mess of a summer.

Harvard Science Center, Not a Polaroid Camera

I took a science class, out of Science Center C. The rumor we were told is that the building was supposedly paid for by the Polaroid folks and that it resembled a camera. Turns out that was an urban myth:

The Harvard University Science Center is the major teaching venue on Harvard University campus for undergraduate science and mathematics.

The Science Center was designed by Catalan architect Josep Lluís Sert, then dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Design, and built in 1973.

Despite popular rumors, the building was not constructed to resemble old incarnations of the Polaroid camera, though its construction was financed by Edwin Land, Class of 1930, who invented the camera.

My experience with Harvard was a positive one. I don’t lay claim to the school, other than my attendance at one of its summer programs. What I noticed from Harvard is that the students were smart and driven. No surprise there. Berkeley too had the smarties, but also had a good many slackers. I did not, in my limited time there, run into slackers at Harvard.

Harvard Christmas Wreath

Of course, there were students from other schools. I seem to remember University of Pennsylvania and maybe Dartmouth.

But Harvard students were also selfish. Perhaps since this was a Pre-med class I was taking, complete with a lab. And maybe self-focused was a way to get ahead? Or was it me?

It very much is different from my experience in the Navy where selfishness is a way to not get ahead. Where each of us has a specific task for the mission. You meet Sailors and Officers who are only out for themselves, but they are so transparent, it is ridiculous.

As for grading, it is difficult to get a bad grade at Harvard. I did D work. As in, at Cal, I would’ve been given a D. But Harvard gifted me a B. I got the transcript to prove it. Grade inflation: it’s not only pumping your flat bike tire hillside.

John Harvard Statue, Harvard Yard

My question: Is my blog being scrutinized as part of a class? When I run a daily report from site analytics, I see harvard.edu in the IP addresses. But no comments from you all? Or is it possible there is a search engine run out of Harvard like Mountain View’s Google?

I will end with this thought: I am not a Harvard man. And even though I graduated from Berkeley, I don’t really consider myself a Cal man either.

But I am Navy. Through and through. The teamwork and calibre of folk I have met in the seafaring service is second to none. No offense to either of the first two institutions. I just am blessed with the job of a lifetime.