People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

VT's Misplaced Focus

[12.15.11 - Bumped Again] 

From yesterday's comments, I received this:
Is Jerry ready to eliminate "community services" that VT is mandated to deliver like Extension services for manufacturing and agriculture?

Or how about the urban planning and design school's mandated community redevelopment assistance program?

VT produces more engineers in a year than the sum of the rest of the schools in the state system that offer engineering. The economic impact and job creation benefits of that ONE college make the investment worthwhile.

Keep picking on the smaller programs with small graduate numbers. They make nice fodder. Meanwhile, the rest of the campus will hum nicely along producing highly educated graduates who produce wealth and jobs.
To which I reply:
The "urban planning and design school's mandated community redevelopment assistance program" is a waste of time.

But the extension services that Virginia Tech provides to the agricultural and manufacturing industries - call them "community services" if you will - are the kinds of educational outreach programs that the school should involve itself in (besides those that traditionally occur "within the four walls."

Had VT's focus been more heavily devoted to the latter, we might still have a strong manufacturing base here in Southwest Virginia.  Instead, the textile and furniture businesses have all but died and gone overseas.

Look, I, along with everyone else here in the Commonwealth, am proud of Virginia Tech's engineering department (as well as its business school).  But too much of the university's emphasis (and most all of its leadership)  are not focused on engineering or business.  They are, instead, devoted to the bureaucracy (I invite you to justify the position of "vice president for Outreach and International Affairs" and the salary that goes with the worthless position of $204,668) and those trendy fields of endeavor that get accolades within the world of academe.

You guys offer American Indian studies, for God's sake.  In Virginia.

At a time when the country is teetering on the brink.

Stop it.

Be proud of the best-in-class polytechnical courses of study that Virginia Polytechnic provides.  But I would ask that you demand that your university gets back to its roots and focuses on polytechnical services and educational endeavors.
[Bumped again]

Here's where Virginia Tech should be placing ALL its emphasis in 2011 and beyond:

Skills gap hobbles US employers

The nut:
US companies that are growing say an unqualified workforce is already a significant barrier to hiring.

In a September poll of owners of fast-growing, privately held US companies undertaken by the non-profit Kauffman Foundation, the inability to find qualified workers was cited as the biggest obstacle to growth. Some 40 per cent of respondents said they were being held back by the skills gap, compared with just 13 per cent by lack of demand.
Meanwhile, too much of Virginia Tech's emphasis is on this.

"ASPECT: Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought"?

"Africana Studies"?

"American Indian Studies"?

"Women and Genders Studies"?

Yeah, degrees in any one of those will get a person a position with First Energy Corp..

It's time to quit jacking around and get serious about America's growing problems.

[Bumped from yesterday]

Here's something you probably didn't know.  Virginia Tech has one of the most highly regarded business schools in the USA.  It's called the Pamplin College of Business.  And well-deserving its reputation is.

I just wish those who administer that highly regarded school held more sway on the Virginia Tech campus than do the touchy-feely, muddleheaded, sickeningly turgid dead-enders who, in fact, control things do.

Speaking of whom ...
A Hokie Nation of servant leaders
By John Dooley, Virginia Tech's vice president for Outreach and International Affairs, writing in the Roanoke Times

The many images of Virginia Tech are striking: the HokieBird and Hokie Stone; the Drillfield and the Duck Pond; CHARLI the robot and a Corps of Cadets with a fantastically high commissioning rate. So many vivid pictures.

I would submit one image trumps all others for the Hokie Nation: of Hokies, around the globe, practicing a central value of service, as expressed in the motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) and consummated through the university's mission of engagement. It is this value that inspires and connects our faculty, staff, students and alumni to dedicate themselves to making differences in the lives of others and in communities.

Entering this special time of year, when so many in society reach out to others, calls to mind ... [link]
Sorry for the interruption.  I just puked.

The university's mission of engagement. Do-gooders dedicating themselves to making differences in the lives of others.

May God help us.

You want to know what makes a difference in the lives of human beings, dude?


What some small minds have termed unenlightened self-interest.  Others greed.

(By the way, before we get too far into the subject of the values that inspire and connect the faculty, staff, students and alumni at VT, values that drive them toward making differences in the lives of others and in communities, it should be mentioned that the servant/author of this fatuous bit of nonsense makes a paltry $204,668 a year. A one percenter by anyone's standard.  I might take him seriously if he did his good deeds at the same rate as those savage and ungodly capitalists among us do.)

Me?  I'm big on self-interest.  And admit it.

But here's the deal: Over the years, I've hired hundreds - thousands if we include those hired by those I've hired - of people.  And paid them for services rendered.  I gave them an opportunity to prosper.  And to enrich the lives of their wives, husbands and children.  I created wealth.

Virginia Tech - too often - creates a cute little diploma.  A diploma that, admittedly, comes with a whole lot of self-esteem.  Which serves those well who are on the unemployment line, seeking work at Wal-Mart with advanced degrees in "making differences in the lives of others and in communities."

Gimme a break.  Seventeen percent of America is currently out of work.  Can we get past the bullshit about community service and get back to talking about freaking paychecks?

Here's to the Pamplin College of Business. May its members someday overthrow the university administration and bring some sense to its addlebrained campus.

- - -

UPDATE: A commenter remarked:
This is one of the dumbest posts ever on this site, and that's saying something.

VT's grads have made a huge difference in the commonwealth for over a century. I dare say that VT's grads have made, on average, a bigger impact on the state's economy than just about any other school out there due to the schools primary mission of educating engineers.
I really don't have an argument with any of that (except maybe the "dumbest" part). But it's not enough.

America - and Virginia - are facing a new paradigm. Millions upon millions of Americans are unemployed and millions more underemployed. Most of them long-term. And the government's response - Obama's response - Virginia Tech's response - is to provide more comfort to the oppressed and downtrodden. Ours is a society that covets our ability to care for the less fortunate. And that's suicidal.

Tell me this: Who does more for a poor person - Obama handing him a food stamp card or me handing him a paycheck?

We in this country are facing each day a growing problem with having to deal with an ever increasing number of food stamp recipients and a reduced number of employers.

Virginia Tech's response (at the highest level) (as opposed to the engineering department level)? We're here to help. To give to the community. To nurture. To comfort.


Be the premier university in the land in those areas where they will have the most impact on our economy and on the lives of America's least fortunate. Business (yes, and engineering).

And fire the overpaid, clueless vice presidents in the organization who educate no one, deliver zero help toward fixing the USA, and offer boneheaded solutions to problems created by those over the years with the same boneheaded solutions to America's problems.

Community service?

Shut up. Go away.