Monday, February 16, 2009

El Diablo is in the Details: Fundrasing within Academic Departments

For the past couple of weeks, it seems most of my higher ed colleagues received letters from their college or university regarding the economic crisis. Academic departments are coping with economic crisis by implementing one or more of the following steps:
  • Increasing the faculty course load from 4:4 to 5:5.
  • Increasing the number of students in each class.
  • Releasing visiting faculty and adjunct faculty from their duties at the institution.
  • Eliminating out-of-state travel.
  • Decreasing the departmental travel budget.
The economic situation for some academic departments is becoming so bleak that they are supplementing their shrinking budgets with external funds from companies.

A few weeks ago, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article titled, "When Ads Enter the Classroom, It is a Deal with El Diablo". This article focused on a professor's plan to earn the department some seed money by advertising for a local business (El Diablo) in his classroom. His advertising plan included the following: placing the restaurant's logo on the class syllabus, dispersing El Diablo stickers to students, and projecting the logo on one of the classroom walls. This plan was downgraded when university administrators heard of his fund raising strategy.

Another classroom advertisement case stems from an article (This Lecture Brought to You By McDonalds) featured on the Colombia Spector Online. Apparently some professors invite Kaplan representatives to advertise their services at the beginning of the year. According to the article, some students are annoyed with this practice and are seeking actual course content in their classes.

A few questions stem from this practice:
1. Why are student services departments (athletic events, etc.) able to accept advertisement dollars while academic departments are not able to accept money from companies?
2. What incentives are professors receiving from their fundraising ventures?
3. What postive and/or negative implications does in-class fundraising have on student learning?

Millennial Professor

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