Need employee productivity? Chain ’em to the desk!

March 18, 2008


I usually don’t poke fun at the academic world. I have to live here, you know. But this week I found a case study that’s amusing, and instructional from a PR perspective. The setting is the University of Akron, just 14 miles from home, so there’s a local angle, too.

Update #1: I’ve added the spoof ad above. It’s been making the rounds among UA faculty for the past few weeks, I’m told. Also, here is the local coverage from ABJ 3/22/08.

Update #2: A popular local columnist weighed in this morning in an essay that — get this — he wrote from home.  It won’t tell you anything you don’t know, except that Dr. Darchame’s nickname is “Dewey.”  It will confirm that he is an outstanding performer, respected by students and faculty — everyone, it seems, but his dean. One of Dewey’s colleagues sent me a copy of his last performance review (at state institutions, these documents are public record).  Number of philosophy majors doubled on his watch, number of minors quadrupled.  This led UA to add two tenure track faculty lines to serve the demand.  Meantime, UA remains unwilling to discuss reasons for his dismissal as chair.  I’d chalk it up to “CD Syndrome” (Clueless Dean). 3/27/08.


If you accept the facts as reported in this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education, the chair of Akron’s philosophy department was fired from his administrative post for being away from his desk without the dean’s blessing. (Story available only to subscribers. Email and I’ll send a copy.) Read the rest of this entry »

Is higher education selling out to marketers?

July 11, 2007

franklin0002.jpgIn the next few weeks, Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, the School of Journalism at Kent State moves to a fabulous new $20-million facility over by the Starbucks. It more than a shiny building. Its a great recruiting tool and venue for teaching and research that may even make our rivals in Athens jealous, at least until their next big gift from Scripps Howard kicks in.

Of course, we were kinda hoping a fat-cat media mogul would see Franklin Hall as a marketing opportunity. But, alas, no one has dropped $10 million in the kitty for naming rights to our J-School — at least not yet.

foxman.jpgHalf joking, I asked a prominent Ohio PR professional what he’d say if Rupert Murdoch offered us $10 mil to call it the “Fox News School of Journalism.” His response: “I’d say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Murdoch.'”

He wasn’t joking. Read the rest of this entry »

MTV hooks up with — Cool!

January 18, 2007

rate.pngMost of my colleagues won’t admit it, but I know they occasionally visit (RMP) to see mtv.jpghow students grade them. Visited by 10 million college students so far, this website is about to get even more popular on the heels of this news from Online Media Daily.

ADDING WEB SERVICES THROUGH ACQUISITION, MTV Networks has agreed to buy a professor rating-service for college students named Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The site will not only become part of mtvU’s online presence, but will serve as a model for other college-related rating services, according to Stephen Friedman, general manager of mtvU.

“Every time we asked our audience about tools they use online, RateMyProfessor always came up,” he said. “Now we’re talking with them about how we build on this idea–best dorms, best places to eat around campus.” Read the rest of this entry »

Federal commission calls for higher education to create transparent public database

December 6, 2006

Reports by federal bureaucracies seldom catch my attention. But this one from U.S. Department of Education’s Commission on the Future of Higher Education is worth a look. If you squint, you’ll see a public relations lesson hidden in its pages.

bear.jpgI learned of the report from an editorial that originated with the San Jose Mercury News. That editorial, like the report itself, calls on leaders of higher education to place key parts of their databases into one central website. That site would be accessible to all who seek information about the performance of U.S. colleges and universities. Read the rest of this entry »

Farewell to Facebook — It’s time for me to go

November 22, 2006

kayakkid.jpgI’ve decided to shut down my Facebook page sometime before the end of the year. I don’t feel comfortable there. Never did.

So, if you want to catch the photos of my summer trip to Lake Superior, do it before January 1st. And for posterity, here is my latest Facebook profile picture, taken at our home at Sandy Lake near good ole Kent, Ohio.

facebook1thumbnail.jpgMy students love Facebook. It’s a wonderful way for them to stay connected to friends and to expand their social network. And Facebook has the public relations and marketing types licking their chops with 10 million students as perfect targets for their viral campaigns. Read the rest of this entry »

When the college years begin, it’s time for ‘helicopter’ parents to buzz off

November 13, 2006

choppers.jpegHelicopter parents have gone to college, or so says an AP story that made the rounds late last week. Because so many of my students and former students drop in on this blog, I thought I’d better clue them in before they procreate and screw up the next generation.

AP writer Martha Irvine tells us how well-intentioned but overly doting parents find it impossible to let go, even as their kids are ready to graduate college. It’s more than sad — it’s pathetic. Read the rest of this entry »

Why are university presidents so rare in blogosphere?

October 23, 2006

Jim Horton made a provocative statement the other day on his “On Line Public Relations Thoughts.” He was discussing how the Internet “forces transparency” on hidebound institutions, then he pointed to one of them.

“There is nothing more hidebound than academia,” he said. “It is no secret that US colleges and universities run badly. Their tuitions skyrocket beyond the inflation rate. There is little effort to rein in costs. So far, parents continue to empty their bank accounts, but how much longer can it go on? It appears to be a PR crisis in the making.”

Maybe Jim has answered the question I pose in the headline. Could it be that university presidents don’t blog because they can’t withstand the “glare” of transparency? Read the rest of this entry »