Watching U officials get lectured

A YouTube video that’s blazing its way through the academic community is a 3-minute speech last month to regents by U of M professor Eva von Dassow, who rails about what she sees as the U’s calculated starving of the liberal arts.

Von Dassow, who teaches classics and Near Eastern studies, argues that the university’s leaders are overstating the financial problems that the university faces. And while they cut the liberal arts, they maintain the positions of vice presidents and salaries of top coaches while channeling “huge sums” into new construction, initiatives, selected sports and the administration itself.

University leaders, she says, are using the current financial crisis “as a tool for starving certain parts of the university in order to feed others.”

And the part they’re starving, the College of Liberal Arts, is a “significant revenue generator” that teaches “by far the most students at the university while receiving proportionately the lowest share of state generation,” she says. Those students “effectively subsidize the rest of the university through their tuition.”

The video has picked up more than 18,600 views since she gave the speech last month. Here are a few nuggets:

Now the plan is to cut our way to distinction by pruning the tree of knowledge.

Those programs engaged in the production of knowledge that is readily turned into money are the targets of investment — while the rest are to be downsized into an efficient credit and degree factory.

This is how to achieve excellence? This is how to guarantee an extraordinary undergraduate education? This is how we become one of the top three universities in the universe?

I have a call in to the university to get its reaction.