It doesn't reflect well on San Francisco State University that President Robert Corrigan has announced that he is considering axing the entire School of Engineering to close a budget gap. The university has no shortage of courses that appear short on academics and long on liberal brainwashing -- you know, courses in majors that prepare students for careers as low-paid malcontent activists. Yet Corrigan wants to kill a program that actually enables poor and minority Bay Area students to learn in-demand, high-level skills with which they can make good money.
What gives? Does Corrigan think that if he puts the screws to students who actually spend their days and nights studying, he won't have to endure protests that would surely follow if he proposed cutting courses in majors in which the students already know everything and hence have the leisure time to engage in political protest?
Or, as others in academe have suggested, is this proposal Corrigan's ham-handed way of suggesting the dumbest cut imaginable in order to scare some funding out of Sacramento?
If so, Corrigan is only hurting his own institution. Word is that Gov. Schwarzenegger's team sent out the message to California college administrators that institutions willing to cut waste in these tight times would be rewarded. Corrigan's gambit sends the opposite message -- that some schools are willing to cut academic meat, while sparing junk-food scholarship.
Corrigan's idea for saving $2.5 million -- in the face of a $14 million gap -- and shortchanging 700 engineering students led me to the S.F. State Web site to take a look at some of the university's other classes -- the ones Corrigan apparently doesn't want to eliminate.
Hmmmm. Raza Studies. Recreational and Leisure Studies. Women Studies.
My fave: The Institute on Sexuality, Social Inequality and Health.
It makes you wonder if the guys in Engineering should rename their discipline. You know, make it the School of Engineering, Structural Inequality and Disparity Dynamics. Even better: the School of Social Engineering. Then maybe engineering wouldn't be expendable.
Bill Nott, a vice president with the American Society for Mechanical Engineers, was disappointed to read in the San Francisco Chronicle that S.F. State's School of Engineering might have a date with planned obsolescence. It's a tough break for students who are working long and hard to get ahead, said Nott.
"Engineering is tough," he said. "It's a lot of math, a lot of science, and the problems are difficult. It's not one of those things where you can miss a course and get through it, and just expound back to the teachers what they want to hear."