March Madness, SEM Mayhem, and “Geek Alternative Brackets”

I grew up in North Carolina where the state religion is College Basketball. I have vivid memories of my teachers wheeling in the A/V Cart and putting a paper clip in the cable jack the back of a huge CRT TV just to get the signal to put on whatever ACC or other March Madness game was happening at the time. March was a month of “worksheets” and very little instruction. It was horrible for my education, but wonderful for the soul.

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5 Great Quotes from University Lobbyists

As many of y’all know, most of my research focuses on political action in higher education, and specifically postsecondary institution lobbyists. As part of my dissertation, I’ve gotten the chance to interview some of the best in the business. In honor of presenting some of this qualitative work at the annual meeting of the Southern Political Science Association this week, I thought I’d share five of the most interesting quotes given to me by higher education lobbyists.  Continue reading

Does your campus have a Confederate statue?

I’m pleased to finally showcase a project I’ve been working on for about a week or so. After the events of Charlottesville, a number of colleges and universities have begun to reexamine their Confederate pasts. The University of Texas at Austin and Duke University both removed statues of Robert E. Lee from places of prominence, while the President of Texas A & M university announced that the university would not take down its statue of Sul Ross, a Confederate General who led the university after the Civil War. In part to flex my data visualization muscles, and also because I think it is important that students, faculty, staff, and alumni know if there is a monument to the Confederacy on their campuses, I’ve cataloged all of the college campus-based Confederate memorials I could find on the map below.

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The Ivy League and the Presidency

I recently stumbled on to this article at Times Higher Education about the incredible dominance of Oxford University as the alma mater of almost every single U.K. Prime Minister since the end of World War II.  That got me thinking… what about U.S. Presidents? Were they all educated at Harvard and Yale? I knew the answer was no – Gerald Ford was quite the football star at Michigan – but I wanted to know just how much the Ivy League and like institutions dominate US Presidential politics. The answer is something along the lines of “quite a bit, but not as much as you might think.”

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Universities Spend $Millions Lobbying

When you hear the word “lobbyist”, it probably conjures up an image of an Aaron Eckhart-like figure spending tons of money wining and dining Senators and Representatives. You’re probably thinking of major industries – Big Pharma, Big Tobacco, Big fill-in-the-blank – that, depending on your political persuasion, you may consider sinister. If that’s what you think, there are two things you should probably know about lobbyists. First, many (if not most) lobbyists are hard-working people representing important and generally well-supported causes like funding for public libraries and making pet adoption easier. Second, if you’ve given to a college or university in the past year, some of that money probably went to a lobbyist.

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