Links: The fate of private schools, the sterile society, freedom of inquiry, and more!

* Oberlin misses admissions targets, faces budget cuts; as Megan McArdle put it, “The boom times are over for colleges, not because of liberal bias, but because the long baby boom echo is waning. A lot of colleges are going to wake up with a massive hangover.” Also: “Why private schools are dying out.”

* “Bonfire of the academies: Two professors on how leftist intolerance is killing higher education.”

* “The Sterile Society,” by Ross Douthat, underrated.

* “Haemophilia A trial results ‘mind-blowing.’

* “E Pur Si Muove:” “It seems easier to accidentally speak heresies in San Francisco every year. Debating a controversial idea, even if you 95% agree with the consensus side, seems ill-advised.”

* “Sam Altman wants to shift the U.S. economy to universal basic income. There’s one problem. Giving away free money is more complicated than anyone thought.” Altman wrote the piece immediately above, too.

* “Help Us Build a Third Culture,” from Quillette.

* Related to the link immediately above, “Richard Shweder on the End of the Modern Academy.”

* “Bruce Brown, 80, Dies; His Endless Summer Documented Surfing.” It’s still a weird, hypnotic movie.

2 responses

  1. This claim from the chair of the Oberlin board of trustees caught my eye: “The cost of running institutions like Oberlin gets more expensive every year.” To which I reply: Why? If the infrastructure is in place to house, feed, and teach a set number of students, with an understanding that faculty and staff will expect and likely deserve predictably sized raises, then what specific expenses are spinning out of control? I suspect administrative bloat and trustees’ pet projects, but I’d love to know the real answers.

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    • Actually, it’s possible that he’s correct, due to health insurance.

      Confessions of a Community College Dean has some messed up website formatting, but this piece: http://suburbdad.blogspot.com/2017/12/experience-ratings.html still gets at the crux of the matter:

      Insurers express the ratio of what they spend on claims to what they receive in premiums in the form of an “experience rating.” An experience rating of 80 means that the insurance company pays out 80 percent of what it receives from a given employer. An experience rating of 100 means that it’s paying out every dollar it receives. An experience rating over 100 means that it’s actually losing money on that employer.

      If your experience rating is over 100, you have no ability to shop around for different providers. Any provider not required to cover you, won’t. You’re too expensive.

      My college’s experience rating is over 100, and climbing.

      Health insurance costs at many institutions have been climbing by 10% per year for years.

      Schools also have limited ability to cut costs via removing tenured faculty, since the Supreme Court struck down mandatory retirement ages.

      Tenure as a system makes no sense without retirement, and many schools are seeing the costs. Including, likely, Oberlin.

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