- Subject: Fwd: Temple_fires_tenured_professor
- From: Victor Steinbok <Victor.Steinbok@VERIZON.NET>
- Date: Fri, 1 Feb 2002 13:02:11 -0500
- Comments: To: "[care]" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
A curious little item that was buried in the midst of the AP reports
on the Globe web site. I wonder if anyone is going to charge Harvey
"C-minus" Mansfield as incompetent--although he's more of a bigot
than a fool.
This report is quite a contrast to the "news" from Patrick the Heal.
Somehow Healy has failed to distinguish between reporting and
editorializing, but that's nothing new to him--he's been doing this
since joining the Globe. I wish they would send him back under the
conservative rock from where he crawled--the man is ignorant and a
discredit to the profession, and he has not seen a right-leaning
press release that he did not report as news. I wonder from where he
gets his marching orders.
With the recent sanitized series in the Globe, which includes the
current story as an extension, it is easy to forget where the charge
originated. The source was not a "Globe investigation" or a "Harvard
review"--not at all! It was a long-standing charge from a
conservative, anti-affirmative action professor with known tendencies
to exaggerate (and no known *experimental* studies, which the
conservatives demand now to demonstrate that educational practices
work). Here's Mansfield's impetus in his own words,
Because I have no access to the figures, I have to rely on what I
saw and heard at the time. Although it is not so now, it was then
utterly commonplace for white professors to overgrade black
students. Any professor who did not overgrade black students either
felt the impulse to do so or saw others doing it. From that, I
inferred a motive for overgrading white students, too.
Normally, when someone claims lack of access to the figures, that
means that he is making a guess, an opinion, and is not stating a
fact. For Healy, this opinion was enough. I wonder if Globe would
have been so eager to print this "investigation" and to prod Harvard
to recognize its legitimacy if the Temple story had broken first.
Boston.com / Latest News / Nation / Temple fires tenured professor
who had complained about grade inflation at university
January 28, 2002
Temple fires tenured professor who had complained about grade
inflation at university
By Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press, 1/31/2002 14:19
PHILADELPHIA (AP) A tenured math professor who complained Temple
University wanted him to inflate grades and ''dummy down'' course
work has been fired on grounds of incompetence, his attorney said.
Martin Eisen, 69, who worked at Temple for nearly 35 years, had been
on paid leave since August 1999 while the university investigated
students' complaints about his grading practices.
Three separate faculty committees reviewed 1,200 pages of testimony
before finding Eisen to be ''incompetent,'' Eisen's attorney, F.
Michael Daily Jr., said Wednesday.
''Our position is that he is not incompetent,'' Daily said. ''What
Temple demanded that Dr. Eisen do ... was dummy down the course so
these kids would get college credit for a college-level course which
was really a high school course.''
University spokeswoman Harriet Goodheart refused to comment
Wednesday, calling it a personnel matter.
The firing of a tenured professor is a ''remarkably serious and
difficult decision, and you have to look at this with great care. And
I think that has happened,'' said economics professor Michael Goetz,
president of the Faculty Senate.
Daily claimed Eisen was fired because he refused to make the course
work easier or give students grades they did not deserve. Eisen's
students had a high failure rate and many of them complained, Daily
Upset students have yelled obscenities at Eisen and physically
blocked the doorway to his class, Daily said.
''I told students they could get the same education in high school
for a fraction of the cost,'' Eisen said Thursday.
Anticipating he would be fired, Eisen filed a federal civil rights
lawsuit against Temple last summer. He seeks reinstatement to his
job, back pay and other monetary damages. Temple has moved to get the
Goetz maintained that classes at Temple have not been dumbed down. He
said grade inflation does exist, but no more than at ''any other
university in the United States.''
Grade inflation recently became an issue at Harvard University when a
university study found that nearly half of all grades awarded were A
or A-minus, a sharp increase from a decade earlier.
On the Net:
© Copyright 2002 Boston Globe Electronic Publishing Inc.
Harvard looks to raise bar for graduating with honors
By Patrick Healy, Globe Staff, 1/31/2002
Harvard University leaders yesterday proposed eliminating honors
degrees for students who earn only a B average, in the school's most
aggressive attempt in years to stem honors and grade inflation.
A record 91 percent of Harvard seniors graduated last June with some
kind of honors on their diploma. Officials touted the high rate as a
sign of the school's success, but a Globe study last fall found that
Harvard gave out honors far more generously than other Ivy League
schools, such as Yale and Princeton.
About 26 percent of last year's honors recipients would have been
excluded under the proposed changes.
The reason for the high honors rate, according to internal Harvard
data and memos, was grade inflation and uneven grading standards:
About half of Harvard's grades last year were As and A-minuses,
mostly in humanities classes, while many hard-science classes were
graded more rigorously.
Yesterday, Susan Pederson, dean for undergraduate education, proposed
that the school no longer award honors to seniors who maintain a B
average, calling it ''odd'' to reward high-caliber Harvard students
for simply earning As and Bs in all of their classes. She told
Harvard's Committee on Undergraduate Education that honors should
recognize student excellence in their area of concentration, or
major. Most of the honors awarded last June were the latter type,
based on seniors' grades, thesis, and other successes in their major.
Pedersen's proposal, which will be discussed by the full Harvard
faculty next month, is part of a broader campaign by new Harvard
president Lawrence H. Summers to increase the intellectual rigor of a
Harvard education and change the incentive system for students to
push them harder academically.
''Harvard is rethinking the way it asks faculty to evaluate students,
and the way it rewards students themselves,'' said Brian R. Smith, a
Harvard senior on the undergraduate education committee. ''It will
generate a lot of debate, but, I think, make us a stronger, tougher
Grade inflation and honors inflation are linked because high marks
breed more honors degrees, and Summers and Pedersen are attempting to
attack both. A week after the Globe study was published, Pedersen
asked all faculty members to justify their grading practices in
writing and turn over the information to a Harvard committee by next
month. Summers, meanwhile, began raising his concerns about grade
inflation privately with some professors - most notably Cornel West,
who felt so insulted by this and other critiques from Summers that he
and two colleagues began pursuing a possible move to Princeton
University. Another, Anthony Appiah, accepted a Princeton offer
Saturday, and West is leaning toward going as well.
Many Harvard officials, professors, and students were chagrined and
irritated when they learned about Harvard's higher-than-average
honors rate. Latin honors are a much-coveted laurel that alumni use
in personal and professional networking and which some employers use
to assess job candidates. Most Ivies and leading US universities
award honors only for outstanding work in a student's major. Several
of them, including Yale and Princeton, cap total honors at about
one-third of the graduating class as a way to protect their value.
Eliminating B-average honors would still mean more than half of last
year's seniors graduated with honors. But Harvard officials believe
such a move would spur further faculty debate about grade standards
for the remaining forms of honors, and about grades and grade
inflation as well.
''By moving this category of honors off the table, it may open up the
talks about grading practices across Harvard and departments and
concentrations here,'' said Jeffrey Wolcowitz, associate dean for
undergraduate education and a Harvard economics instructor.
This first step, however, is expected to ignite a fierce debate in
the full Harvard faculty of arts and sciences, which will begin
discussing the honors proposal at its Feb. 12 meeting. The proposal
is tied up with the issue of grade inflation, and professors often
resent the inference that they are loose or sloppy graders.
''This is an important debate for Harvard to have, for educators to
have, but it won't be an easy one,'' Smith said. ''We should be
attacking honors inflation and grade inflation, but there are a lot
of different ideas about how to.''
Smith, for example, believes that a 91 percent honors rate is too
high, but he is reluctant to impose a percentage cap on honors, as
most Ivy League schools do. Perhaps the answer is raising the
grade-point average required for honors - from a B to a B-plus, say -
to limit the influence of grade inflation on honors, he said.
Even more important, said Rohit Chopra, a sophomore on the
undergraduate education committee, is that the faculty and the deans
should agree to a system of grades that all Harvard professors use
and that students can understand. Doing so, he said, will make grade
inflation less likely.
Patrick Healy can be reached by e-mail at <mailto: email@example.com>
This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 1/31/2002.
Globe Newspaper Company.
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