Category Archives: Education

Free Inquiry on Campus

The “Free Inquiry on Campus: A Statement of Principles by a Collection of Middlebury College Professors” document, published in the “Aftermath at Middlebury” is well worth reading and pondering.

On March 2, 2017, roughly 100 of our 2500 students prevented a controversial visiting speaker, Dr. Charles Murray, from communicating with his audience on the campus of Middlebury College.  Afterwards, a group of unidentified assailants mobbed the speaker, and one of our faculty members was seriously injured.  In view of these unacceptable acts, we have produced this document stating core principles that seem to us unassailable in the context of higher education within a free society.

Financial versus Mathematical literacy

It is rare when I actually take the time to read Baylor’s student newspaper, the Baylor Lariat, and even rarer when I post a critical response to a Lariat article. However, I couldn’t resist commenting on an editorial from earlier this month entitled, “Baylor should implement class to ready students for real world”. In this editorial, the members of the Lariat editorial board opine that Baylor should require a one-hour credit “Life Skills” course in lieu of a basic math course such as “Ideas in Mathematics”. Basically, such a course would be designed to cover very basic personal finance principles, such as budgeting, paying off student loans, buying insurance, saving for retirement, etc. I think this is a manifestly bad idea; let me explain why.

While I am not aware of an empirical literature concerning mandated personal finance courses at colleges and universities, many states have experimented with personal finance and minimum math requirements at the high school level. A recent (2014) Harvard Business School working paper entitled “High School Curriculum and Financial Outcomes: The Impact of Mandated Personal Finance and Mathematics Courses” provides a thorough empirical analysis of personal finance and minimum math requirements and finds that mandated personal finance courses at the high school level do little to improve outcomes that are generally associated with financial literacy (e.g., such as building wealth through asset accumulation, prudent credit management, etc.), whereas “… individuals who were exposed to greater math requirements in high school are more likely to accumulate assets, have more real estate equity, are less likely to be delinquent on their loans, and are less likely to undergo foreclosure.”

Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl…

I find it somewhat ironic that the bowl game that Baylor University’s football team is playing in (against UCLA on December 27th at the Holiday Bowl in San Diego, CA) is sponsored by a firm called Bridgepoint Education, which (as best as I can tell) is a “competitor” to University of Phoenix.

If you go to Bridgepoint Education’s website (located at, and look under the curiously named tab called “Innovations”, two “universities” are listed; specifically, Ashford University and University of the Rockies (  Their other “Innovation” is labeled “Technologies” (, one of which is a “… publishing solution for sharing dynamic digital content, engaging readers, and capturing insightful analytics”.

Colleges Stampeding to Online Ed

Colleges Stampeding to Online Ed

This article discusses the ongoing experimentation by elite colleges and universities with online education.  However, unlike previous efforts by the likes of Coursera and Udacity, this latest effort by a consortium of 10 prominent universities (including schools such as Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Northwestern) called “Semester Online” is fully monetized.  While students from consortium member institutions do not have to pay any additional tuition in order to participate, apparently non-consortium students have to apply, be accepted, and pay tuition of more than $4,000 a course.

Head to Head on Tenure

Naomi Schaeffer Riley, a former Wall Street Journal editor and author of the book The Faculty Lounges … And Other Reasons You Won’t Get the College Education and UT-Austin economics professor Daniel Hamermesh go “head to head” on tenure (hat tip to Frank McCamant for pointing this “debate” out to me).  Also see a short Texas Tribune article entitled “The Pundit vs. the Professor: A Debate About Tenure”.