American College Student Priorities

. . . and then we wonder what is happening to our country, when colleges not only allow binge drinking, but enable it, i.e. the 100 college presidents who signed a call to lower the drinking age to 18.

God’s heart must break over for an entire generation of American college students who have their priorities so out out of skew…..I know mine does.

College freshmen study booze more than books
Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY

Nearly half of college freshmen who drink alcohol spend more time drinking each week than they do studying, suggests a survey involving more than 30,000 first-year students on 76 campuses who took an online alcohol education course last fall.

Students who said they had at least one drink in the past 14 days spent an average 10.2 hours a week drinking, and averaged about 8.4 hours a week studying, according to findings being presented today at a conference in Seattle for campus student affairs officials. Nearly 70% of respondents (20,801 students) said they drank. Of those, 49.4% spent more time drinking than studying.

Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy, executive direct or of NASPA — Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, says the findings surprised her because most literature describes the millennial generation as responsible, close to parents, focused on their careers and dedicated to service.

“Our hope is that this new finding will motivate (campus and community leaders) to join us as we redouble our efforts to de-emphasize the role of alcohol in college life,” she says.

Her group is developing a training program with the study’s sponsor, Outside The Classroom, a Boston-based company that offers alcohol-prevention programs to colleges nationwide. Findings are based on responses to the company’s online alcohol education program, and on calculations to estimate the average length of a drinking episode.

In most cases, all incoming students are encouraged to take the online course. Students were not selected randomly, but “given that we have a good cross section of colleges and given the large number of students involved, I’m confident these numbers give a pretty accurate picture,” says lead researcher William DeJong, a professor at Boston University School of Public Health.

Precise numbers are not available, or easy to calculate. The National Survey of Student Engagement asked a question about studying last spring, and found that its 18,000 respondents spent an average of 13.2 hours “preparing for class.”

But the findings presented today are consistent with estimates based on an annual spring survey of first-year students conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, which surveys students at the end of their first year of college.

What’s more important is the big picture, says John Pryor, managing director of the institute.

“The main point is that students spend a lot of time drinking compared to other things you would want them to be doing in college.”

Stuart Irby Woke Up!

Five weeks after the horrific accident our friend, Stuart Irby, woke up from his coma on Friday. I received a call from Cal Wells who had just left the hospital and was overwhelmed at the remarkable difference in Stuart. Stuart’s assistant, Sylvia Gore called me Saturday and invited me to come see him.

When I arrived at the hospital this afternoon I saw a large group of people around a patient in a hospital bed that was sitting up. I started to go around the group into the hospital and then recognized Kate Irby. Stuart’s family was there to see him including Karen, who has also been so severely injured in this accident. Their children were there as were others in the family, and of course Charles, who has been the world’s greatest brother through all this.

I stood back with Kate for about 10 minutes and watched, and when the line of sight opened that Stuart could see me, he pointed, smiled, and called my name. After seeing him just a week ago in such a bad state, I never thought this day might come. He took my hand and wouldn’t let it go nor would I let go of him. I’ve heard about people coming back from a coma but have never seen something like this and it was thrilling to rejoice with the family.

Stuart’s speech is slow and it takes him some time to gather his thoughts, but his personality, wit, and spirit are just the same. We didn’t talk long before he started asking about the College. He wanted to know if the baseball team was having a good season. And he wanted to know about enrollment for next fall.

I told him how often and how many people at Belhaven have been praying for him and Karen. And of course, we need to keep them in our prayers as well as the families of the two doctors who lost their lives in this tragic accident.

Stuart still has a road of recovery ahead, for he is far from returning to “normal,” but this change in just a few days is the huge step we’ve been praying for and now believe with therapy he can recover from the brain injury and regain his active life. He told me how much he wanted to get out of that chair and walk and knowing his determination it will probably happen soon.

I had the privilege to pray with Stuart as the family gathered around in front of the hospital and as we got quiet to pray I noticed Stuart leaned way forward in the chair to put his head down for our time of prayer together.

God is a great healer and to Him goes our thankfulness for bringing this miraculous change to Stuart.

Air Conditioning is the Key to Our Future

This is the time of year we all dread…..the two or three first hot days when all the pollen seems to pop out all at once and covers everything in yellow.  Hopefully it will rain tonight, because it never seems to go away until we get a good rain.

This is also the time of year when the campus is anxious for the air conditioning to be turned on in our buildings. Unlike our heating and cooling in homes, these huge industrial systems cannot simply be switched from heat to AC – it is a big deal change these mechanical systems.  Thus when we change them over for the season, the change is for good.

The dilemma of when to switch over to AC is difficult when we get a few early hot days, but knowing more cold nights are yet to come.  We try to wait until we know that heat will not be vital for our residential students before we make the switch.

So yes, we know this past few days were tough with no AC, but the weather will be cooler now through the first part of next week – which is why we decided to wait.

As Assistant Vice President for Campus Operations, David Potvin gets many of the “requests” to turn on the AC, and this note to him from a student puts it all in perspective (I just love clever creative students)

Please turn it on; please, the AC is a very valuable resource for good learning environment.  Considering that our brain is 60% lipids (fat) it wouldn’t be a large step to say that the heat is melting our brains.  With the lose brain matter we will have people failing, and with people failing it will cause the school to shut down, and with the school shutting down you will be out of a job which could have been prevented by just turning on the AC.

The bottom line is that the AC will start to come on during the end of spring break week – it takes several days to change over the entire campus.

The Rest of Higher Education

I get so spoiled by our wonderful faculty and staff, and their deep commitment to Christ and to our students, that I sometimes forget what the rest of higher education is like.  This story from the University of Florida is a jarring reminder of the difference in spirit, calling, values, and integrity of our faculty and staff.

At a moment when the University of Florida is slashing its budget and laying off faculty and staff, administrators thought it was reasonable to ask Florence Babb to increase her teaching load to three courses a year. She doesn’t agree.

Babb, an endowed professor and graduate coordinator of UF’s Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research, has entered into arbitration proceedings to challenge the increased teaching load. Babb was given an appointment letter in 2004 that said her teaching load would be limited to one course each semester, and now says the university isn’t upholding its written agreement.

The United Faculty of Florida, a statewide union affiliated with the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, is backing Babb. As more universities contemplate budget cuts, Babb said it’s important to make a stand.

“This could be a kind of a test case,” said Babb, who makes close to $100,000 a year. “I think there is some awareness that this is a big issue for me, but it’s potentially a significant issue for many more people.”

The university does not dispute that Babb’s appointment letter laid out a one-class per semester course load. Even so, university officials argue that changing teaching loads is permissible under Florida’s collective bargaining agreement with the union. “From the university’s point of view, it is black and white in the collective bargaining agreement that a chair can adjust the assignment of a faculty member whenever they need to do so,” said Joe Glover, Florida’s provost.

According to the agreement, the university is authorized to “determine the mix” of duties, which include teaching, research and service. Assignments must be “fair and reasonable,” according to the agreement

Babb draws an annual salary of $99,223, according to university officials. The two classes she’s teaching this spring have a total of 43 students.

Master’s Degree in Beatles Studies

I grew up with the Beatles and loved them (even won the “Beatle impersonation contest in 5th grade – I was John). But a Master’s Degree in the Beatles????

Liverpool Hope University has announced a new master’s degree program: The Beatles, Popular Music and Society, the first of its kind in the world.

The new course, which can be studied both full and part time, covers four modules with specific issues relating to The Beatles and Popular Music, consisting of four 12-week taught modules, plus a dissertation.

Mike Brocken, Senior Lecturer in Popular Music at Hope, said ‘There have been over 8,000 books about The Beatles but there has never been serious academic study and that is what we are going to address.

‘Forty years on from their break-up, now is the right time and LIverpool is the right place to study The Beatles. This MA is expected to attract a great deal of attention, not just locally but nationally and we have already had enquiries from abroad, particularly the United States.

”The Beatles, Popular Music and Society’ marks a seminal advance in popular music studies. For the first time in the UK and possibly the world, a postgraduate taught course is offered to research into The Beatles, the city from which they emerged, the contexts of the 1960s, technology, sound and songwriting and the industries that have set up in their wake to capitalise on tourism in the city of Liverpool.’