Get Rid of Tenure and Tax Some University Endowment Funds

A couple of really interesting ideas in this podcast that I totally buy into.

The first is to get rid of tenure. This I had already concluded many years ago. It’s generally giving job security to people in the least productive stretch of their careers, then passing that on to students who’d have to pay more. The productivity statement is a generality, of course, meaning it applies to most, but  not everyone. However, it’s the same problem governments face with inefficiencies due to the fact they are challenged to fire staff, especially unionized staff.

A related point is the increase of international students who pay the full tuition, huge increases in numbers in some schools. More and more international students are being let in not mostly for diversity’s sake, but for the cash they bring to the schools’ coffers, especially schools that get government funding that fails to meet their wants. That’s also been obvious to me. Having some international students is definitely good, of course, but we have enough diversity in our culture to keep our campuses diverse, if only we’d also remove some systemic barriers to admitting them. Now, whether those massive increases in international student numbers decrease seats to local or national students, or decrease education quality due to class size, the major benefit to huge numbers of international students is for the endowment funds of the schools, not to the students or campus quality.

The second is to tax post-secondary school endowment funds if seats available at those schools funds don’t grow proportionately to the fund growth. Simple argument is that those schools with endowment funds become a for profit entity rather than a not-for-profit because they are hoarding cash and/or spending it on extravagances rather than essentials.

Some other interesting topics regarding better measures for success are also discussed.

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GISHWHES Should Award for New Friends and/or Facebook Friends Made from Doing It

GISHWHES, or The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen!, is a global community of individuals (94 countries and growing!) that “gather” online once a year, form international teams, and then go out into the real world and create “art” the likes of which the world has never seen.

One of the things that come from this is people reaching out to other people. New friendships, or just Facebook friendships, are born as a result. I think they should award a point for every one new friend made. Cap it at something like 50 and have people document it somehow. It’s not a lot of points, and probably hardly even worth the effort. However, it’s an easy 50 points and the true value lies in reiterating to people that they just made 50 new friends because of the contest!

There might be a Guiness World Record in there somewhere, too, I’d bet, if the documentation is done reasonably well enough. Helps earn and validate the points.

Don’t you think that’s worth the 50 points?

A 3D Printing Contest Suggestion for NASA

NASA will be sending a 3D printer into space in June 2014 with the fifth SpaceX supply mission for the International Space Station (CNN). You can read all about the why and such in the article linked. What I’d like to propose is a cool and simple little contest prize.

The prize would be that the winner would get to send a 3D printing file of his/her choice to be printed in space, and sent to him/her when it’ll get send back to Earth with the next transport back of astronauts. The winner would then have something that was 3D printed in space! Maybe even the FIRST object 3D printed in space to give it historical significance and value, that is important.

Having the FIRST piece as the prize would definitely up the ante rather than just any piece!

Of course, the object would have to be within some reasonable and practical limit like volume since material, weight and space are precious commodities on the ISS. And one would want to be sure it worked on Earth with a sample printing, though how to compensate for lack of gravity would have to be dealt with by NASA.

As for the contest? Well, let NASA decide that. Maybe it could be a 3D printer object sculpting contest. Maybe it could be a bidding contest for the object chosen by NASA. Or anything else, for that matter. It’s the prize of something printed 3D in space…

So NASA, are you up for it?