V V w V V V w w w
By Sue Barto
J UDY CUMBOW should be in her
best days at the University now,
when classes are intimate and relevant,
and there's a sense of belonging.
But the mechanical engineering
senior says, "It's not what they led me
to believe." Even in her upper-level
courses,,"there are so many people you
can't see the board," she says.
For undergraduate students who
come to the most expensive public
university in the nation expecting to be
noticed, it is sometimes a disillusioning
four years to graduation.
Along the way, students can feel left
out in the hallway of a University which
builds its reputation on research and
For students like Cumbow, who end
up in large lecture halls straining to see
a chalkboard or a grease-penciled
outline on an overhead projector
screen, there seems to be a disparity
between the University's student-faculty
ratio. of 12-1 and the reality of classes
"Given the student-faculty ratios, I
don't know what the professors are
doing, because they're not teaching,"
A lot of them are doing research.
Getting published and bringing in
research grants is crucial for gaining
job security at the University.
Reputations make a big difference in
the race for foundation and government
money, and alumni seem more willing
to dig into their pockets when they see
the University quoted in papers like
The New York Times, analyzing the
nation's economic and social trends.
Economics Department Chairman
Edward Gramlich puts it bluntly: "It's
good to bring in research grants. The
University would go broke if we
But the same money that helps pay
professor's salaries and replace aging
lab equipment also keeps some
professors out of the classroom. While
research and graduate education go
hand in hand, many see undergraduate
education suffering as a result.
With larger classes, more teaching
assistants, and less personal attention,
the undergraduate student is unlikely to
breathe the rarified academic air he or
she hoped to find here.
Some students. like LSA iunior Julie
MacKenzie, feel some professors view
class as a rankling burden that keeps
them from more important things. She
says her German professor last year
seemed put out by having to be in class.
"We knew he would much rather be
upstairs in his office interpreting Ger-
man poetry than to have to teach a
class. It was so obvious he didn't want
to be teaching," she says.
Gramlich and other professors con-
tend research expertise can make a
classroom come alive with fresh ideas.
But often research prevents professors
from teaching in the first place.
Gramlich calls Economics Prof. Saul
Hymans "one of our best teachers;" but
the nationally renowned economic
forecaster only teaches one class this
term, a macroeconomics course for
"I could insist that I do some teaching
at the undergraduate level; the fact
that I don't would indicate that I'd
rather teach graduates," Hymans said.
"It's a matter of slothfulness, I sup-
pose. It's a track you get into."
Even though Hymans gets little per-
sonal contact with undergraduates, he
says his research efforts can benefit
them with a trickle down effect. "We
have a sense of what makes the depar-
tment go," he says.
But some are less certain that un-
dergraduate education is greatly affec-
ted by the articles and breakthroughs
that make the University famous:
"In a situation where classes are
larger than three, four or 500 studen-
ts-and TAs are teeming in freshman
and sophomore classes-the 'trickle
down effect' is negligible," says Alfred
Meyer, a political science professor.
"We are a Ph.D.-producing, resear-
ch-oriented University," he says. "The
more distinguished the university, the
less likely it is to pay attention to un-
What that means, Meyer says, is that
undergraduate students have to be
more assertive asking questions and
seeking out professors if'they want to
avoid an assembly line education,
"Attention (from professors) is
either pure luck or pure student
initiative," Meyer says.
"This is a place which awards those
who are aggressive," agrees Robert
Weisbuch, associate chairman .of the
While enrollments at English depar-
tments at other universities have drop-
ped sharply in recent years, the num-
ber of English majors at the University
has almost doubled in the past seven
years. Class size has grown too, from
an average of 24 students in 1974, to 34
students last fall.
W ITH NUMBERS like that, in a
class designed for give-and-take
"We have a problem of atmosphere,"
Weisbuch says. Without more attention
at the under-class level, he says he
would think twice about sending his
children here before their junior year.
In the Economics department,
Gramlich says he doesn't like the
packed lectures any more than students
do, but even though the department
hired six new faculty members in the
fall, the problem remains.
"We've been screaming for new
positions, (but) there are an awful lot of
undergraduates to be taught here."
Although Gramlich is lukewarm about
the idea, he suggests that the Univer-
sity could resort to using videotaped
lectures for its 20,809 undergraduate
students, as do Michigan State Univer-
sity and the University of California at
But for many students, the attention
paid to them by professors give them is
scanty enough without increasing the
distance with a video screen.
"Every semester I've had at least
one class where there was poor com-
munication," says LSA senior Andrea
Greenberg. "Either there was no
syllabus, or tests were announced too
late, or the papers weren't handed back
until three weeks later."
These types of complaints have been
getting through to some people in the
University-enough to prompt the LSA-
joint Student Faculty Policy Committee
to suggest a list of 10 guidelines for im-
proving teaching on campus.
The guidelines, originally drafted by
Near Eastern Studies Prof. Louis Orlin
in September, recommend that faculty
be more available in office hours, hand
out syllabi and course outlines at the
beginning of the term, and critique all
work that students hand in.
"Students feel powerless. They fall
between the cracks," Orlin says.
9 p.m., Tuesday, March 13
Academe: Anonymity on the steps
But in its February meeting, the LSA
faculty turned down the guidelines 32-
10, and asked that the committee come
up with a toned-down proposal. Faculty
members criticized elements of the
proposal as too restrictive and difficult
to enforce. Supporters of the proposal
have been somewhat taken aback by
Orlin says he was trying to develop
"an internal sense of correctness," not
a repressive teaching environment.
Weisbuch too regards the guidelines
as one reasonable step toward im-
proving undergraduate education.
Everything they are suggesting is
reasonable.. . people think they're rab-
ble-rousers, but it's hardly radical,"
Weisbuch says. "The document is a
symbolic action of the concern of
faculty for undergraduate education."
While it is questionable whether LSA
will ever adopt the teaching proposal,
in some parts of the University, per-
sonal contact between students and
professors is the rule rather than the ex-
The Residential College, founded in
1967, was based on the idea that the
class doesn't end when the hour is over.
Carl Cohen, a philosophy professor in
the college, who has a joint appoin-
tment in LSA, says "My colleagues in
the (LSA) philosophy department teach.
very hard, but the situation is much
larger and perhaps not as warm."
In the Residential College, Cohen
says, "It has been my experience that I
will raise a question in class in the mor-
ning, and later in the day I will hear
students arguing about it in the corridor
as I am leaving my office."
"Whereas in LSA, you go from.
Auditorium A back to Mosher-Jordan
and no one will know what you were
discussing in class."
The Residential College concept in-
cludes a requirement that students live
in East Quad where the classes are
taught for two years. The RC
professors have offices in the Quad,and
teach sections much smaller than those
in LSA. Evaluations replace grades.
"People here are more interested in
education as a pure form rather than
more superficial things like grades and
degrees," says freshwoman Chris
"People are more motivated to know
what they are learning," she adds.
"The discussions are much livelier
(than in LSA). . . if you blew off for two
weeks the people in your class would be
John Mersereau, director of the
college, regards it as one of the best
places an undergraduate can get an
education at the University.
"WATE ARE NOT antagonistic to
LSA, we are. part of it. We
just think the Residential College is a
more suitable option for un-
dergraduates," he says.
Mersereau says the RC does not give
up research to teach, but explains that
publishing is not as critical in the
college as a basis for advancement.
Some professors argue that research,
even where it is a basis for promotion,
is also crucial for saving the classroom
from sterility and inertia.1
"I don't think scholarship is
separated from teaching," says
Weisbuch. "Some people assume it's
either one thing or the other. I think
that's baloney. More often than not, the
people most in demand are the active
By Joseph Kraus
N ANSWER TO THE question of that
ittle old ladyin the Wendy's ham-
burger ads-you know the one who
asks, "Where's the Beef?"-well, little
old lady, the beef is, or will be, on
Tuesday, right here in Ann Arbor.
And we're not just talking about some
little slab of a hamburger swimming in
grease. No way, momma, this is grade
A 100% T-Bone.
T-Bone Burnett, to be exact-one of
the most articulate figures in rock and
one of its current hidden secrets.
Burnett's music is - folk-influen-
ced rock filled to the brim with in-
telligent lyrics and even, ("What is this
trash" scream the heavy metal freaks)
Burnett's most recent album, Proof
Through the Night, was released just
last year and ' has met with great
critical success and no small bit of
commercial. In addition to featuring 11
unique songs, it features guest guitar
work by Ry Cooder, Mick Ronson,
Richard Thompson and Pete Town-
shend-the old-time super stars know a
good new thing when they hear it.
Despite the fact that his music is new,
Burnett's story is far from brief.
Beggining as a producer, T-Bone
worked closely with the' Stardust
Cowboy, who has been described as one
of the most geniusly demented in-
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dividuals in rock history.
From there, Burnett joined up with
Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue,
where he played guitar and piano. In a
recent interview Burnett discussed the
influence that Dylan has had on his own
art, "I know he's had a really tremen-
dous influence on me and everybody
who came after him. .Dylan was the
first guy to take what the Zen poets
were doing. . . and popularize it. . . I
think everybody that has come after
him has been influenced by the way he
uses words as arrows to go right into
From the Revue, it was a quick stop
with his own Alpha band and then on to
a solo career.
The cover of Proof Through the Night
shows Burnett dressed in a classy gray
trench coat looking a trifle Bogey-ish,
and he has said of the album that he
looked at it as something like a detective
piece. "(I meant) Just that the songs
were very open to interpretation. You
know, I wrote them so that they could
mean a lot of different things and I wan-
ted an album that people could par-
ticipate in the actual writing of, if they
wanted to add the time and in-
clination," he said.
Burnett went on to discuss his ap-
proach to writing music. "I actually
write at the typewriter, usually, and
then sort of figure some way to sing
them. That's why so many of the songs
are actually spoken. I don't know if
they stand alone as poetry, I don't in-
tend them that way."
Burnett sees his album as a unified
whole rather than simply a collection of
songs. "I was trying to connect the
songs through the theme and basically
all three of my records have been writ-
ten on the same theme: Which is that
we're becoming a world of images
rather than ideas. We're leaving
behind our foundations. Really, I think
ideas are the most powerful things on
Earth," he said.
However, for his next album, Burnett
sees a change of theme. "It's not a
career change, I'm just moving on to a
new type of song. . . I think there's
going to be a lot more solo, kind of
acoustic music coming out," he said,
denying any implication that it's a
change in his art.
T-Bone Burnett: Here's the beef
Although he has spent most of per-
forming career with a band, Burnett is
coming to Ann Arbor alone. "I started
playing solo because I found out that for
one thing you get to meet people when
you go out by yourself. . . when you go
out with a band you sort of see the same
15 people in the entourage. And I can go
a lot more places I wouldn't be able to
go with a band. Also, the shows are a
lot more personal; concentrated more
on the songs. Oddly enough, a solo per-
formance can be more powerful than a
band's. People just have to gear their
listening to the size of the sound. It's
T-Bone Burnett plays this Tuesday at
the Second Chance. Don't miss him-a
solo's a lot better than a single.
ARE 1IOU GOING ToYo MP1
TiE ITnCHCOCKc EEYONWS GO041
12 Weekend/Friday, March 9, 1984