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saintseester

I feel as if we ought to have a wake.

ashley

I just edited the post to include a nice link to a Save Newcomb site.

Adrastos

I wuz waiting for you to post about the faculty mistreatment story in the TP but this is just as good.

Richard P.

Indeed.

Whatever you can say about the mayor and governor, it should logically pale in comparison to the criticism which Scott Cowen richly deserves.

Of course, his response and the response of the legions of Cowen admirers/sycophants out there would be that without his efforts the doors of Tulane would have closed.

Let's remember that no previous Tulane president has had all the power that this one does and not only that that this one seems ever to savor wielding.

Mr. Clio

Ashley, let's keep our eye on the ball.

Professor Brinkley, if yer not fer us, yer agint us.

Good riddance.

Go to Rice and the James Baker Institute of Whatever is Lucrative at the Moment.

Mr. Clio

Besides, I hope Brinkley goes to Houston and screws up their geography as badly as he screwed up ours in his post-Katrina book.

bayoustjohndavid

Makes you worry about all the boards and commissions or some Tulane serves on. He and Norman Francis seem to have some representation on just about all of them. Is there anything we need to know about Xavier?

I'm curious about whether Rice offered some absurd amount of money or if Tulane wanted to rid of a professor that the mayor hates. But the reporting doesn't really tell us anything.

Is there a link to the canning mentioned in the first sentence?

Mr. Clio

Okay, so I slept on it, and my comment above (fer us or agint us) is perhaps a bit harsh. A bit.

bigshot

The way I read the article was that Tulane made a competitive offer, but that Brinkley chose Rice anyway because it's a better school in a safer place to raise his kids. Not exactly shocking given the way Brinkley talks about the crime problem nationally. I heard him on NPR about three weeks ago and he was relentless about the mayor and the crime situation. He sounded like someone who was giving up hope on the city.

Aaron

Someone who already gave up hope. I hear the same rhetoric from people who moved away from here years ago - its a justification for their actions and they want validation.

LatinTeacher

My dad worked at Tulane, albeit in the Medical School. I grew up going to Tulane football games, and there was no doubt in my mind that I would attend school there. For better or worse, Tulane was a big part of my life for my first 22 years (and after my dad died, the department in which he worked offered my mom a job (which she took). I don't know if this is still true, but at one point Tulane was the largest private employer in New Orleans. Now that New Orleans is smaller, doesn't the university have to adapt as well? I still will never understand how Cowen thinks it's ok to get rid of Newcomb.

ashley

When the security of tenure is stripped away, every faculty member, no matter how revered, knows that they could be next.

Tulane may have made a counter-offer, but when they don't honor tenure or any policies in the faculty handbook, which is a contract, then their promises are as empty as Cowen's head.

Maybe Brinkley can get to Houston in a hurry and finish up some of that Hunter Stockton Thompson stuff he's supposed to be working on. Enjoy the suburbs, Douggie.

bayoustjohndavid

I believe it's the largest private in the state and it's certainly the largest in the city. Since the city layoffs, it's the largest employer altogether. That's probably misleading because of the S&WB, RTA and school board being counted separately.

BB

without giving any credit to cowen, i would add that the word in some circles is Brinkley has buddied up to Nancy Reagan to secure rights to a Ron biography, and a position with, christ, the James Baker institute is in-line with this move.

ashley

I believe the Raygun bio comes out next week.

Will

If Brinkley wants to move to Houston because the schools work and there aren't three shootings daily, whose fault is that, exactly?

Is Cowen responsible for the senssless deaths of Helen Hill and Dinneral Shavers?

If we can take our Cowen-hater glasses off for just one second we might be able to see that Tulane ain't exactly the only local company having a hard time attracting top-notch outside talent.

What does it take to recall Eddie "Bloodbath" Jordan?

ashley

This post isn't about Eddie Jordan, or Dick Shavers or Helen Hill. It's about how Cowen has made a prestigious University into something less.

But you can't see that, Will, because you are one of those blind Cowen defenders.

The point is, Cowen has destroyed Tulane to the point where good faculty won't stay, and mediocre faculty won't even come.

Richard P.

To the Cowen apologists/admirers: not long after Cowen took over, which was in 1998, he took note in a Board meeting of the gap between Tulane and the schools which it likes to consider as its peers, e.g. Rice, Duke, Vanderbilt. That gap has not narrowed and wasn't changing for the better, flood or no flood.

No problem here whatsoever in acknowledging the hard work to get the school back up and running for the spring of 2006 BTW. Credit should certainly go to where it's deserved.

OTOH was everything between the engineering program changes to ending Newcomb College and thus incurring the wrath of thousands of alumnae really warranted to solve the financial crisis?

That's hardly clear and Cowen, as he typically been throughout his tenure, has been a lot less than forthcoming explaining things and revealing the details.

No problem here with someone taking bold but necessary action in a crisis but a genuine leader should never have a problem with laying the relevant facts on the table and making it totally clear to all why there was little choice but to do what they did.

Again, being transparent and forthcoming is anything but the Cowen style and that's right where the real problem is.

There's a long history with him of acting in secret to decide something important and then springing the final decision on everyone while obfuscating the facts.

Is such a modus operandi along with alienating the Newcomb alumnae really the right idea in this time when it would seem very much that Tulane would badly need all of the good will it could muster and are these actions which have also had their effect on Tulane's reputation, as shown so often in this blog, in the academic world, really going to bring Tulane up the the status of the Vanderbilt's, Rice's, Duke's, et al.?

Will

The post quite clearly blames Cowen's actions (well, his fuckmookishness, anyway) for Brinkley leaving. Do you any actual evidence that supports that?

Richard P.

Here are some things that would seem to be worthy of consideration.

No Tulane school president before Scott Cowen has had as much power to wield in office. No one has had voting privileges on the Board, as he does, ever before. He asked for that, as I understand, when they hired him and he got it.

Where has that gotten Tulane, especially in comparison to the Rice's, Vanderbilt's, etc.?

As for Brinkley, Tulane and Cowen vigorously sought after him and many considered it a coup when they hired him away from UNO.

They were paying Brinkley far more than what most professors make and giving him a lighter workload.

That he still left for a university with a better academic status would seem to bear out that Cowen hasn't done much to make Tulane into something more than what it was in 1998 and isn't figuring to be able to do so anytime soon, in spite of his unprecendented powers, his ballyhooed bold leadership and sweeping reshaping of Tulane though the renewal plan.

It's both what Cowen has done and what he has failed to do.

Will

Richard P., to the extent that Brinkley is leaving as part of a career path to a more prestigious university, it's fair to lay some of the blame for that at Cowen. It's part of his mission to increase Tulane's prestige, and he hasn't accomplished it.

On the other hand, Tulane has longed to be the level of Rice, Duke and Vandy for as long as I can remember - certainly well before Cowen got there - so obviously it's a tough nut to crack.

But as to the implication that Brinkley is leaving because of Cowen's post-K cuts? I see little evidence of that. After all, his jumping from UNO to Tulane certainly didn't require any tenure-related fracas. The more prestigious job, coupled with a better safety and school picture, seems a more plausible source for a job change than what happened to the engineering dept.

Ash's description of me as a "blind Cowen defender" seems a bit misguided, since in this forum alone, I have called into quesion his cuts at the med school and accused him of trumping up the whole athletics debate purely as a cynical means to sell tickets. I would say that puts me just a bit outside the "blind support" category.

As a TU engineering grad, I didn't like seeing the engineering school cut any more than Ash did. I think I'm just a bit more realistic about trying to maintain an engineering school at a private university where engineering isn't either the primary mission or a key driver for the academic reputation. Tulane is hardly the only private school to give up on their engineering program. Maintaining modern engineering facilities is disproportionately costly to the number of students in the program, and the percentage of engineering students on scholarship is disproportionaltely high. Simply put, engineering is usually a money-losing propostion for small-to-mid sized private schools. As such, it was a sensible place to make a necessary cut, painful as that was to me personally.

Will

Richard P., to the extent that Brinkley is leaving as part of a career path to a more prestigious university, it's fair to lay some of the blame for that at Cowen. It's part of his mission to increase Tulane's prestige, and he hasn't accomplished it.

On the other hand, Tulane has longed to be the level of Rice, Duke and Vandy for as long as I can remember - certainly well before Cowen got there - so obviously it's a tough nut to crack.

But as to the implication that Brinkley is leaving because of Cowen's post-K cuts? I see little evidence of that. After all, his jumping from UNO to Tulane certainly didn't require any tenure-related fracas. The more prestigious job, coupled with a better safety and school picture, seems a more plausible source for a job change than what happened to the engineering dept.

Ash's description of me as a "blind Cowen defender" seems a bit misguided, since in this forum alone, I have called into quesion his cuts at the med school and accused him of trumping up the whole athletics debate purely as a cynical means to sell tickets. I would say that puts me just a bit outside the "blind support" category.

As a TU engineering grad, I didn't like seeing the engineering school cut any more than Ash did. I think I'm just a bit more realistic about trying to maintain an engineering school at a private university where engineering isn't either the primary mission or a key driver for the academic reputation. Tulane is hardly the only private school to give up on their engineering program. Maintaining modern engineering facilities is disproportionately costly to the number of students in the program, and the percentage of engineering students on scholarship is disproportionaltely high. Simply put, engineering is usually a money-losing propostion for small-to-mid sized private schools. As such, it was a sensible place to make a necessary cut, painful as that was to me personally.

Will

Apologies for the double-post, typepad hung up then double-posted.

KamaAina

Time to convene a search committee to find his successor yet?

I hereby nominate Evan Dobelle, presently marking time at the New England Board of Higher Ed after a brief and tempestuous stay out here at the University of Hawai'i. Basically, he was forced out by a Board of Regents handpicked by our (R) governor, after he dared to endorse her Dem opponent. Works for me!

He's got the chops to jump ugly with Duke, Vandy, et al.: before UH, he ran Trinity College, a prestigious small college in Conn. He even dabbled in town-gown relations; he was going to bring in urban designer Alexander Garvin to reinvent the somewhat dowdy Mo'ili'ili neighborhood surrounding the UH campus, then the regents attacked.

The floor is now open for further nominations...

Richard P.

There's much to challenge in these assertions.

First, that the elimination of the engineering programs was the sole reason for Brinkley leaving Tulane has not, as I can see, been contended by anyone.

You're missing the point.

Brinkley left because he could but the entirety of both Cowen's actions and, even more important imho, the way he has conducted himself had to have made it an easier decision for Brinkley.

Who are the professors who aren't leaving? The ones who aren't in a position to do so. In the end a diminished Tulane is the result and Cowen has to bear responsibility for that.

The assertion that it's OK to give up on engineering because it's usually a money-loser raises a whole host of issues.

Were the programs that they cut really such money drains? The numbers, or at least what's available for all to see, don't bear that out at all. Has Cowen been completely forthcoming about revealing the numbers that underline how his actions, however painful, were vitally necessary? The AAUP for one isn't buying his story.

Another thing that's striking is how they didn't even make an effort to turn to engineering alumni and give them a chance to keep their institution going but announced it as a done deal (par for the Cowen course, though).

Newcomb certainly wasn't some major money drain and the administration doesn't even try to claim that it was. Yet, all of it was a take-or-leave-it package deal in the name of post-flood financial exigency.

The Board apparently didn't have the guts to call Cowen's bluff but how can anyone with eyes not be suspicious?

Is it any wonder that people think that Cowen isn't to be trusted?

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