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January 18, 1985 - Image 14

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1985-01-18
Note:
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Smaller
(Continued from Page 3)
larger courses.
"Class sizes will increase because
there won't be as much faculty time
devoted to undergraduate education as
there was in the past," Coxford said.
The school's focus will be turned
toward consolidating and beefing up its
graduate programs.
Berger says the school had to be
reorganized "in tandem" with reduc-
tions in faculty. Both faculty members
near retirement and other tenured and
non-tenured instructors must leave. So
far, about 24 of those affected have
chosen one of these three options: early
retirement; a buyout (an agreement to
leave in exchange for one or two times
the annual salary); or placement in
another unit within the University.
Last summer every faculty member
interviewed for a position in the
reorganized school; instructors were
even given job applications which they
could voluntary fill out. Faculty mem-
bers who will stay are those who
specialize in areas the school wants to
emphasize in the future, according to
Berger.
But professors, who are not certain
about who's leaving, say planning the
school's new direction took a back seat
to reducing the size of the faculty.
"It's simply a matter of expediency,"
says Prof. Frank Womer, who will
retire this year. "If you have to reduce
your budget by 40 percent, it's not a
matter of saying what the School of
Education should be and trying to keep
people in those areas. It's how can we
achieve a pre-determined, arbitrary
cut and maximize those retiring?"
Retiring faculty will leave the school
with a void in instructors in educational
psychology, special education, and
guidance and counseling. As a result,
these and other programs next fall will
be consolidated into a series of courses
to be offered as part of a more general
program. The units of occupational
education, international education, and
labor relations will be -eliminated en-
tirely, Berger says.
Professors are particularly worried

that educational psychology, con-
sidered to be a cornerstone of un-
dergraduate teacher education, will be
significantly weakened.
"Any school of education has to have
a strong educational psychology
program" says Prof. W. Robert Dixon,
former chair of the program, who is
currently on retirement furlough. The
consolidation of the program is "not the
way to go" he says.
Moreover, masters students with
training in special education and coun-
seling are currently in the highest
demand among educators. But some
say those jobs will be closing out and
therefore the school should look down
the road at what it can offer future
graduates.
"Do you go after highly marketable
areas just because they are marketable
or do you go after long-term areas we
want to research?" Berger asks.
One research area which the school
will beef up as part of its reorganization
is educational technology-the in-
tegration of computers and advanced
telecommunication systems with
education. Professors expect that the
program will attract top-notch
graduate students.
Educational technology will be the
primary focus of the school's three
research centers: the Center for the
Study of Higher and Postsecondary
Education; the Center for Research on
Learning in Schools; and the Bureau of
School Improvement Standards.
But educational technology is one of
the few bright spots in the school's
future. Though many of the faculty
members have devoted 11 and 12 hours
on Saturdays and Sundays throughout
the fall term to revising the curriculum,
they admit the hard part still lies
ahead.
Professors will be required to con-
solidate material from several courses
into one course.
"It depends on whether you can get
people to narrow their focus in actuality
or is it just going to be a narrowing on
paper?" asks Prof. Leverne Collet.
"I'm not sure there will be any real
changes," he adds. "And if that doesn't
happen I don't see that it can be
anything but lower quality.
Other instructors say they feel

Y

Berger: Pushing education technology
challenged by the reorganization.
"It's an opportunity and I don't see
anything wrong with doing something
different," says Prof. Frederick
Goodman. "I am unwilling to pronoun-
ce that this (new plan) is going to be
better or worse."
Not only will professors be asked to
combine material from several cour-
ses, but many will have to teach cour-
ses outside of their specialty. These
changes, some say, contradict a man-
date from the budget cutters that
faculty improve their research produc-
tivity.
Prof. David Angus says he will not be
able to integrate his research into his
course work because he will be
teaching unrelated courses. "The stuff
I do feel confident about is limited to
one course a year," he adds.
Salary raises this year were based
strictly on research productivity.
Faculty members had to prove that
they had the equivalent of two new
journal articles in print, according to
Berger.
Professors admit to feeling pressure
to publish. When journal articles are
used as a yardstick for productivity,
emphasis is placed on short-term, in-
dividualized papers. Professors say
this emphasis bars long-term
collaborative research.
"Right now one of those small things
counts just as much as a large project.
And that's bad," says Collet.
"A school that's been through what
we've been through should concentrate
on large scale projects which can
establish a reputation," say Angus.
Bill Coats, a former professor who
left the school last August for a position
in private business, adds: "To judge
faculty quality on journal articles
doesn't make sense. I can show you
people who have had hundreds of jour-
nal articles printed who haven't made a
dent in their profession."
Another apparent contradiction in the
stress placed on research is the
elimination of the Ph.D. in education
Budget cutters told the school the Ph.
D. could only be offered in joint
programs between education and other
units on campus. Instead, the school
will offer the professional doctorate
degree - the Ed.D. - which is a less
research-oriented degree and is
generally viewed as less prestigious.
The Ed.D, some say, will hinder the
school's chances of recruiting top-flight

doctoral students and building a name
for the school as a research institution.
It's too early to tell if the elimination
of the Ph. D. program has hurt the
number of new applicants to the doc-
toral programs, since most prospective
students won't apply for another two
months, according to Martha Reesman,
an assistant in the Office of Academic
Services. She has been hired
specifically to buck up the school's
recruitment efforts.
But Hillery Stanford, a graduate
student who works in the Office of
Minority Student Affairs, says the
elimination will definitely have a
negative impact on attracting students.
"You have students who view the Ph.
D. as having the higher status and they
will be turned away. You will have
more practitioners and less
theoreticians and I think there's a need
for balance (between the two)..." he
says.
Coats says he joined the school in the
midst of the review after working as a
school district superintendent. His
leaving was not a result of the cuts, he
says, but a personal decision to return
to the private sector. He has opened a
company in East Detroit to train
youngsters in computer use. He says he
wouldn't be surprised if more of the
school's talented professors decide to
leave for other jobs.
"You're going to have two kinds of
people leave: people who are near
retirement and the people who can do
things in private business," he says.
Asked whether the prospect of losing
despondent professors to other univer-
sities or the private sector is a worry,
Berger says, "Oh, you betcha. And we
have had some 'raiding parties' from
other schools who want to get our top
flight faculty."
He adds that he has to tell instructors
that he cannot even offer them a pay
raise commensurate with their
colleagues in the University's
engineering and medical schools. The
top salary hike for education professors
allowed under this year's budget
allocation was 7 percent.
To date, however, no other professors
have left the school to take other jobs.
Berger says this is a sign that the
faculty is committed to implementing
the transition plan.
But Angus says: "A lot of us are in a
'wait-and-see' mode. It may be a place
where I want to stay or it may be that
I'll want to get the hell out of here."
DeLater is a Daily news editor.

Deadly
prose
Lives of the Poets
EL. Doctorow
Random House $14.95
By Andy Weine
NEVITABLY, any accomplished artist,
having passed her spectacular peak
and turned out a few brilliant works,
enters a sort of contemplative middle-
age crisis in which to savor her
sparkling past and wonder if her future
will be as bright. Some loll about and
produce nothing further, like the;
reclusive J.D. Salinger; others produce
mediocre or sub-standard works, and
still others (e.g., Bob Dylan) find a
second wind that may last many more
years.
E.L. Doctorow seems to find himself
in such a stage of life. Having achieved
a comfortable success and artistic
mastery with such moving works as
Ragtime and The Book of Daniel, he
has now written Lives of the Poets, a
book consisting of a novella and six
stories. Overall the work is interesting
and thoughtful but disappointing, a sort
of sigh and non-event in the wake of
eye-opening, unforgettable works.
That is not, however, what Doc-
torow's publishers nor some critics and
readers would want you to think. Once
established, a writer like Doctorow
finds in his path many critics who find
it safe to applaud every susequent
work, no matter how dull, with a litany
of empty adjectives. How, they ask,
can you not see the sheer genius in this
work by the man who has written
masterpiece X and tour de force Y?
Or to put it in the words of my mother
(who is the most demeaning critic of
my work), how can I - young student,
amateur writer-dare to cut down artists
who have worked hard and long years
and produced works regarded by many
as great? Can't I see that writer Z is
just ascending to a higher aesthetic
realm, on which I must join him?
I cannot. They (and my mom) would
have you nod unthinkingly as Neil Simon
dribbles off yet another bound-to-
make-your-heart-ache play, or as
seventy-year old Lillian Hellman scrib-
bles out a pretty empty novella called
Maybe.
And so we come to Lives of the Poets,
which is certainly not a BAD work, and

even better than fair - perhaps a little
good, at most.
The six short stories that comprise
first part of the book solemnly ring
with themes of death. In.one humorous
story, a young man writes leters,
signing them as his dead father. This
device of blackish humor works won-
derfully in enabling the character (and
reader) to understand the father, and to
come to terms with the father's death.
In contrast, "The Water Works"
hauntingly describes the dredging of a
child's body from the workings of a
dam. Doctorow's skills in language
shine in this story that is almost lyrical
enough to be called a prose poem, as
demonstrated in this passage: (The
child's body) went slamming about,
first one way and then the next, as if
in mute protest, trembling and
shaking and animating by its
revulsion the death that had already
overtaken it.
Death recurs in "The Foreign Lega-
tion," a story of terrorist bombing in
which the other prominent theme of
these stories emerges: loneliness,
isolation, and the loveless distance
between people. We find that distance
again in a story of a lonely small-town
schoolteacher, in another of a boy in in-
tense, disturbing Oedipal conflict, and
in "The Leather Man," a story of
estranged street people in isolated
suburbia.
In the last short story, Doctorow of-
fers a profound passage illuminating
his continual treatment of the human
distances - between parts of one's self,
between strangers, loved ones, and the
living and the dead. Through the
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character of a detective, he praises the
street man, who makes the world
foreign. He distances it. He is
esranged. Our perceptions are shar-
pest when we're estranged. By that
principle, we understand things better
when not submerged in their core but
more cooly observing from the outside,
with a breathing space in between. Doc-
torow's meaning here is as valuable as
his characters are unique, from a street
man and lonely suburban wife to a flip-
ped-out astronaut and philosophizing
detective.
The stories complement each other
and, as a whole, hold their own, perhaps
more so than the final story, the novella
of the book's title. In the novella Lives
of the Poets, Doctorow rambles spirally
and circularly in thinly disguised
autobiography, documenting a writer's
day-to-day life, thoughts, and moods in
and around SoHo. This work offers
more for the person read in Doctorow
than one who's not; both readers will
probably find it interesting though not
compelling, and sometimes bordering
on self-indulgence.
Much of the novella bewails the
troublesome, failing marriages among
the character's circle of artist friends.
Besides being confusing with so many
names, these discussions too often
become repetitious and boring, like so
many soap opera episodes but minus
the melodrama and with a fatalistic
Woody-Allen-ish tinge that says his
generation is neither married nor
divorced but no longer entirely
together, and intimate partners have
become more generic, with one lover
substituting quite easily for another.

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gan Daily Personals
764-0557

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Empty classrooms: A sign of declining enrollments

4 Weekend/Friday, January 18, 1985

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