Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Rodney and me (with apologies to Michael Moore)

It's always interesting to see how people react to things I've published on the web or when I'm quoted in the media.  I've learned that's the risk you take when you put yourself out there.  In December, I published an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle about the fee increases at the U. of California.  It generated only a handful of comments in the Chronicle's on-line edition, including one amazingly intelligent and articulate reader who said, "An incredibly insightful article from a professor from Pennsylvania who has no reason to be biased for or against California" (and I swear it wasn't me using an alias, and I highly doubt my mother reads the Chronicle).  But my favorite comment was from the reader who said, "Back to Pennsylvania, Bozo."  While first tempted to respond in kind with, "That's Professor Bozo to you," I somehow managed to resist the urge.  These are just a couple of examples of what I've seen from the general public.

But today I came across a blog post that was a little different, and from a source that should know better.  The blog, "The Third Leg: Career Higher Education," is published by my friends at the Career College Association (CCA), the lobbying organization for for-profit higher education institutions.  Today's post in the blog critiques an article in the Houston Chronicle by Jeanine Kever: "Kever quotes a Donald Heller, a traditional higher education stalwart, who suggests employers will not equate degrees from proprietary colleges with the University of Houston, Penn State or Rice."

I'm not quite sure what it means to be "a Donald Heller" -- is that supposed to be a slap in the face, as opposed to being called just plain ol' "Donald Heller"?  I also enjoyed being referred to as a "traditional higher education stalwart."  Again, I'm not sure if this means I'm traditional, and I'm a stalwart of higher education?  It's not too often that anyone who knows me calls me "traditional," but I certainly wouldn't take offense at being called a stalwart of higher education.  Or maybe it's implying that I'm a stalwart of traditional higher education, whatever that is (Mark Hopkins and a log?  Charles Elliot at Harvard?  The Yale Report of 1828?).

In any event, I find the whole thing rather amusing.  The blog post does not identify the author, but featured prominently next to the post is a picture of Harris Miller, President and CEO of the CCA.  Now Harris is actually a really nice guy; we both spoke at a hearing of the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance a couple of years ago in Nashville, and in chatting during the breaks, found that we have quite a bit in common.  For example, we both share a passion for promoting access to postsecondary education for historically underserved populations of students.  If you're really interested in what Harris and I had to say at the hearing, you can watch a video of it.

So I'm going to assume it wasn't Harris himself who was dissing me, but probably some lackey of his who doesn't know that I am not just "a Donald Heller," but am actually the Donald Heller.  To paraphrase that great higher education stalwart Rodney Dangerfield, I don't get no respect.  To add insult to injury, the CCA blog lists 14  "Education Blogs of Note," and they have the audacity to exclude The Itinerant Professor from the list!
Oh, and by the way Harris -- I've got almost twice as many Facebook friends as the Career College Association does.*  So put that in your proprietary pipe and chew on it.


* at least today, that is

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