LSU Removes Tough Professor

Props to my brother for highlighting this blogworthy “LSU Removes Tough Professor” article.

Mid-article I was thinking of this assessment axiom—the quality of your students’ work is a direct reflection of your teaching effectiveness. Therefore, if 90% of your students are failing, something is seriously wrong with your teaching. However, in the second half of the article, Tough Professor explains that she factors in improvement, most everyone was improving, and most people would eventually pass the course just not with the A’s and B’s they’re probably accustomed to.

I’m trying to figure out why LSU administrators caved simply because students complained. A worrisome precedent. A key point is LSU is supposed to be the state’s flagship institution; therefore, shouldn’t administrators error on the side of academic rigor? Why didn’t the administrators say something to the effect of, “If you’re not willing to work harder, maybe you should have picked a different state school.”

The administrators probably succumbed to enrollment pressures and said in effect, “We can’t afford to lose students.” But are short-term enrollment numbers worth the crippling of faculty morale and the chipping away of the institution’s academic reputation in the medium and long-term?

A statistic and a story come to mind. We know nothing about the gender of the students that complained, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a disproportionate number were males. The statistic. In 1960 there were 1.6 males for every female graduating from a U.S. four-year college. In 2003, there were 1.35 females for every male who graduated from a four-year college. I’ve written about this in the past, but from my limited vantage point, female students are leaving their male counterparts in the dust. The story. A couple of years ago I’m driving daughter and daughter’s Yale-bound friend somewhere. Me, “I’m curious, why Yale?” Her, without missing a beat, “Because I want my nose to the grindstone for four straight years.”

Our challenge is increasing the relative percentage of “nose to the grindstoners”.

2 thoughts on “LSU Removes Tough Professor

  1. Jaime Escalante (Stand and Deliver) need not apply.

    Ron, in grad school, I’ll never forget receiving 48/160 (4, 40 point essay questions) on an Organizational Economics test — and having one of the highest scores. “Maybe a 20,” replied Dr. Keith Leffler when someone asked him what a truly good answer would receive. Unsatisfied, the student asked what God would get? “35 out of 40. I have to leave room for truly exceptional answers.” Don’t bother asking me the names of my other grad school professors, or what I learned.

    I’m disappointed that the teachers argued “academic freedom” rather than she was doing the right thing. They obviously don’t believe in her ways either.

    Can she coach basketball and would she like to meet Phil Knight?


    • Great story. As Dano pointed out, Palin was in town, and she was a baller before a bulldog or hockey mom. Maybe she’s getting cozy with Phil and will be named the coach. Imagine the OSU/OU games. I’m smiling picturing you in your singlet listening with rapt attention to her speech.

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