Month: January 2014

James Milliken – New Chancellor of CUNY

Mark Tuminello cunyJames Milliken has been selected to be the new chancellor of The City University of New York.  Formerly the president of the University of Nebraska, Milliken was voted in unanimously by the CUNY Board of Trustees.  He will be the university system’s seventh chancellor, succeeding Matthew Goldstein.  Goldstein was a divisive leader and stepped down this past summer after fourteen years holding the position.

Milliken is 56, and earned a degree in law from New York University in the early 1980′s.  According to CUNY, he followed the degree by working with legal Aid in the city and with an international law firm in Manhattan.  As the president of UN, Milliken oversaw several campuses.  Enrollment rose during his time, and he was well respected among his peers.  He also simultaneously served as a member of the faculty within the College of Law at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and at the School of PUblic Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.    Before 2004, he was the senior vice president for the University of North Carolina, a huge school with sixteen campuses.  Before that, he was president of the University of Nebraska.

His experience with UN extends even beyond his work there.  He graduated from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, participating in organizations such as Phi Delta Theta, the Society of Innocents, the chancellor’s senior honorary, and the Phi Beta Kappa Society.  In between his time in Nebraska and New York, he also worked for Congresswoman Virginia Smith in Washington DC as a legislative assistant.

A little more about James Milliken – He is a member of the US Strategic Command Consultation Committee and the Business Higher Education Forum.  He is an active member of the board of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, the Nebraska ‘Dream It, Do It’ initiative, and the Nebraska State Chamber of Commerce.  He serves as a co-chair of the Council on Competitiveness’ Regional Innovation Initiative Leadership Steering Committee.  He co-chairs the Nebraska P-16 program, and serves as a member of the Governor’s Education Leadership Countil.  He serves on the board of directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges.  He is a member of rthe NASULGC Commission on Online Learning, and serves as the vice chairman of BioNebraska.  He is also on the Borad of Academic Advisors of the Building Bright Futures scholarship initiative, based in Omaha.

The job of chancellor is a big one.  CUNY has 24 campuses, far more than he has worked with before.  The school was in rough shape when it was handed to Mr. Goldstein.  Over his time, some of his more controversial decisions were to raise tuition, an effort to standardize curriculum across the CUNY schools, and end open admissions.  Students, angered because CUNY traditionally accepts thousands of annual graduates of NYC’s public school system, protested and called for his resignation.

Milliken says that CUNY ‘enjoys significant momentum and unlimited potential.’  Wasting no time, the union that represents faculty and staff remarked that the union was not involved in the selection of Milliken, but that they hope the new chancellor will be an ‘aggressive advocate’ for the entire university, as public higher education is in a ‘national crisis [that] has hit CUNY particularly hard.  In a statement, Mr. Milliken said CUNY “enjoys significant momentum and unlimited potential.”

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Moocs and Distance Learning

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Mark Tuminello moocsAs a professor who teaches ‘live,’ in the flesh, I found this article in The Guardian about distance learning interesting.  For instance, I didn’t realize that in 1938, an organization called the International Council for Correspondence Education was founded, with nearly 100 representatives in attendance.  Of course, distance learning is now more closely associated with advances in technology that is doubtlessly increasing the value of such an education.

The UK’s Open University had only been established for a couple years when it began broadcasting on the BBC in 1971.  JC Stobart, the channel’s first Director of Education, hoped to create a ‘wireless university.’  25,000 students watched the broadcast, focusing on the arts, social sciences, science, and math.

Even though we have all since seen commercials for online degrees since then, offered by universities and other organizations, distance learning really came into its own in 2008.  That’s thanks to Moocs – Massive Open Online Courses.  Moocs are courses that are free and open to an unlimited number of students.  Since 2008, MOOCs have grown rapidly, gaining critical acclaim.  Once particular Mooc provider, about a year ago, boasted nearly three million registered students.  That dwarves the number of students of the successful Open University over its entire existence.

To be fair, less than ten percent of students complete a course when it comes to Moocs.  That’s the catch with a free service, I suppose.  But those who are taking advantage of Moocs in a real way are avoiding rising tuition fees.  In the UK, they have received 10% fewer applications annually for the past couple years, between full- and part-time students.

Not all of these potential students are participating in distance learning, with numbers overall remaining the same year to year.  Distance learners tend to be older than the average university student, with many of them already holding degrees.  There’s still a lot of growth potential in distance learning, particularly as the technology develops.

The International Council for Correspondence Education is now known as the International Countil for Open and Distance Education.  They are also now partnered with Unesco.  There is a lot of hope in Moocs, even while the critics denounce it.  There is a generally accepted notion that there is still a long way to go before Moocs make a serious impact and become a significant portion of overall education.  Others wonder how Moocs will change education.  Democratizing education seems like a natural effect, but as there is no financial benefit as of now for providing Moocs, pay-to-learn models shouldn’t be too worried at the moment.

from Mark Tuminello

Good & Bad News for the UK

Mark Tuminello poundThere was some positive news coming out of the United Kingdom about their economy, as they enjoyed nearly 2% growth last year.  This marks a huge improvement from the past few years, even if not quite up to the same level as the mid-2000′s.  UK leads the EU in economic growth with this statistic.  What’s more, manufacturing orders hit a three-year high, according to the Industrial Trends Survey by the Confederation of British Industry’s latest report.  A third of businesses reported an increase while just a fifth reported losses.  Even the International Monetary Fund has joined in the optimism, upgrading it’s economic growth forecast for the United Kingdom to 2.4% for 2014.

A recent article from Forbes takes a harder look at all this optimism, though.  While these numbers are great, it is mostly a result of success of large companies.  The truth is that small and medium sized companies are still having a hard time financing their growth, which is potentially hurting the chance for new players to get into the game, and potentially harming innovation and new ideas.

This sudden and welcome economic growth has been spurred on largely by a slowly recovering housing market and consumer spending.  How long can this growth be sustained on the backs of consumer spending?  That’s precisely what the Business Minister is wondering.

The goal is to achieve sustainable growth with long-term potential.  And for this, we need small and medium sized businesses to thrive.  These businesses account for 50% of employment in the private sector in the UK.  While looking at overall positive numbers, we ought to be considering that lending to businesses is down nearly two billion pounds from last month, more than half of which were for small and medium sized businesses.

The government is introducing initiatives to provide these businesses some access to finance in lieu of traditional methods like bank loans.  The real job, apparently, is to get the word out about these options.  Business owners need to know about resources before they can provide assistance.  Across six plans, the government is prepared to fund nearly three million pounds.  Six thousand businesses have received some funding through these initiatives.  Funding is also being provided to banks with the understanding that they will lend to smaller businesses and households.  More plans are in the works.

However we get there, it is paramount to a sustained recovery that we keep small businesses in mind.

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The Economist

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Mark Tuminello the economistOne of my favorite publications is The Economist.  It’s been around for so long, it feels like a player itself in the world of international economics.  I have been reading about the magazine a little, and wanted to share some of what I found.

The Economist is a UK based weekly media source, starting as a weekly newspaper with a global scope in 1843.  The printed magazine edition still exists, with a weekly circulation of 1.5 million, though many more access the news and editorial content through it’s significant web presence, like online articles, their YouTube channel, and several podcasts, among other outlets.  About half of it’s printed readership is in the United States.

A little look at the steady long-term growth of their printed circulation…

  • 1877 – 3,700
  • 1920 – 6,000
  • 1960 – 30,000
  • 1970 – 100,000
  • 2000 – 1,000,000
  • 2012 – 1,500,000

This is good growth, but in the world of magazines, it’s a very small fraction of the market.  In the 1990′s, they addressed this in their slogan ‘not read by millions of people.’  Back when the publication began, this was roughly the meaning of economism.  While the magazine has larger editorial stances, more diverse views are expressed by the individual contributors.  The staff of 75 journalists are mostly based in London, where they cover a range of world issues.  Who reads The Economist?  Two thirds of its readership earn more than $100k/year.  They explicitly target educated, influential, policy-making readers.

Over the years, the Economist has endorsed major candidates from both sides of the UK political landscape.  Most recently, the Labour Party was endorsed in 2005, and the Conservative Party in 2010 in general elections.  They have endorsed Republicans and Democrats similarly in the United States.  Some would also find conflict in it’s support of the US wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, while at the same time opposing capital punishment and backing appeals for gun control.  The Economist is also notable for its accusations of dishonesty.  Some of the figures recently singled out include Silvio Berlusconi, Robert Mugabe, Bill Clinton, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

All of these editorial stances are delivered in a rather dry way.  There is a distinct tone that has remained uniform over the decades.  Authors are not credited officially for the articles – they are simply individual articles of the publication itself.  Also notable is the way the authors presume the reader already have a decent working knowledge of economics.  No great lengths are taken to explain concepts, introduce major players, or give background for topics that are discussed.  If you don’t know what a demand curve is, or you don’t fully understand comparative advantage, a little research might be necessary to fully understand all articles.


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