Monday, December 15, 2008

Excellence Without Money

(Image Credit: Words by Moose; fabulously clever seal by Historiann, with help from the Official Seal Generator at

Game on, kids! Roxie's World and Historiann have joined forces to launch a movement aimed at saving higher education from the forces of evil and economic decline. Following up on Moose's reflections here the other day on the perilous budgetary situation facing public institutions, Historiann took our ball and ran with it, designing this eye-catching seal aimed at spreading the gospel of Excellence Without Money throughout our cash-starved land. We are humbled by her creative appropriation and invite all of you to join with us as we try to figure out how to survive in a period of plunging revenues and soaring workloads. Go read Historiann's excellent post on this subject, which is full of brilliant ideas for how institutions can go on pretending that the most severe budget cuts imaginable will have no impact whatsoever on the quality of the educational product. (Wouldn't want to give shoppers any reason to suspect they had wandered into an academic Target when they thought were going to Bloomingdale's, would we?) Make sure you check out the comments, too -- Historiann has a very smarty-pants group of readers, all of whom are welcome in Roxie's World any time.

So, we've got a slogan and we've got a symbol. By the logic of 21st-century capitalism, most of our work is done. All we need now is a marketing plan, but, really, what does that involve -- a Café Press account, a tech-savvy grad student with time on his hands and a homosexual's flair for design (qta -- Mama has a job for you!), and maybe a bored intern at The Chronicle of Higher Ed who stumbles across this crazy meme and decides to put it on The Chronicle's daily blog list?

Help us out, though, kids. Tell us what your schools are doing to advance the cause of Excellence Without Money. What are the rumors flying around your campus and the grim new realities that have already taken hold? Larger classes? Layoffs? Libraries Without Books, as Dog-Eared Book suggested here in comments the other day? What's the scariest thing you've seen or heard, and what is the most inspiring example you can offer of an administrator determined to maintain both integrity and true excellence in the face of enormous challenges? You know we're a glass half full kind of crowd around here. We laugh in the face of adversity, and we honor those who act creatively in the face of it. What can we say? It's a way we have of driving off the spleen. We're firm believers in hanging together rather than hanging separately, so come hang with us and we'll all muddle through somehow.

Special Note to Our Grad-Student Readers: We realize your anxieties right now are particularly acute. Let Roxie's World be your warm fuzzy friend in a time of trouble. Tell us what's on your minds, and we will look back at you with that gaze of total recognition and acceptance that only a dog can offer. I'm telling you, it's better than an on-campus interview at 5-Courses a Term/No Sabbaticals Ever College. Love you. Mean it!


  1. Please tell me that graduate students are not required to "participate" in the furlough. That would be SO WRONG!

    At my not-so-humble private prep school, the admin has decided to freeze all professional development funds. Of course, this is good stewardship, but it still sucks.

    If this is my only complaint in these trying economic times, I guess I'm lucky . . .

  2. Roxie,

    The economy will not always be in the toilet and after an appropriate amount of time we can return to a mantra of Mediocrity with Millions, which is of course the other side of the economic coin (or in the cases of some schools, even billions.) I can say this though because my anxiety is very low having just started the first year of the PhD madness and with no illusions of being on the job market any time soon. I'm sympathetic to my comrades, but I also remember the years of thinking that the gay and lesbian revolution could come with no money. The notion was relinquished to realizing that lots of money would come to the queers, but no revolution. Now that is dispiriting. So as you say, Paws UP! We will survive this - even if you find many in the distant future competing with you for your kibble in retirement.


    PS The word verification includes the word cat - is that authorized in Roxie's World?

  3. G-boy -- Nope, no grad assistants will get furloughed, thank dog.

    Julie -- You're right. The moms have watched the ups and downs of the academic job market for 25 years, and things ultimately, always get better, but over that period the net movement has been downward -- i.e., fewer tenure-track jobs. We'll have a new post up soon, though, on a positive new development for public higher ed. Stay tuned!

    Oh, and cats, like all creatures, are always welcome in Roxie's World. I had a transgender (MTF) cat named Lily as a wee-pup. I loved her to distraction. My love, alas, was not requited, but I never held that against Lily or her species.


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