Stamats Blog

Why Tenure is a Little Like Baseball Before Free Agency

Posted by Jeff Rich

Aug 21, 2014 9:37:00 AM

Sounds like a stretch, but if you think a little deeper about it you’ll see some similarities. For those not familiar with baseball before free agency, it was like permanent indentured servitude. As late as 1969, players were bound to a team for life by what was known as the “reserve clause.” Simply put, a player was a team's property unless the team chose to trade him or release him. A player’s first big-league team would usually be his last. In 1970, Kurt Flood changed all that when he challenged major league baseball’s reserve clause, clearing the way for free agency and the ultimate bidding war for talent we find ourselves seeing today. Tenure is generally seen as a really good thing by the academic side of a university, while administrators often struggle with the fixed expense structure it creates during times of declining enrollments and revenue. Putting these perspectives aside, I offer an alternative perspective that, if accepted, may make both sides switch to the other’s point of view. If we think of tenure like the reserve clause in baseball before free agency, then administrators should love it! It keeps salaries low for professors, as they are less likely to jump ship for a higher paying position at another university unless it comes with the tenure they’d be giving up. Academics often enter the field of teaching to gain tenure and have the job security few other professions offer. Like the reserve clause held down salaries in baseball, tenure has a similar effect in higher education. Just imagine if professors who were universally loved by their students, a pleasure for senior administrators to work with, and who produced the best student outcomes could shop their talents on the open market in an industry that sought to acquire the best talent? Top educators would see their salaries skyrocket, and if economic theory held true, the entire industry would see increased wages.
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Topics: Enhance Digital and Social Media, Write a Plan

Lions and Tigers and Plans… Oh My

Posted by Cary Jordan

Aug 21, 2014 8:57:00 AM

“Oh, and watch out for the flying monkeys.”

We all know there’s at least one Scarecrow, in the long history of scarecrows, that would have appreciated that nugget of advice early on. Nothing overly specific. Wouldn’t have had to interrupt the song and dance. Just a quick heads up from one of the waving Munchkins, so that if the Scarecrow were to find himself being disemboweled by a pack of winged primates, it at least wouldn’t have come as a total shock.

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Topics: Write a Plan

“Click Here” Should Never Appear on University Websites

Posted by Jen Visser

Aug 20, 2014 11:38:23 AM

All publicly funded institutions in the United States need to conform to accessibility standards for individuals with disability (ADA and Section 508 compliance) so it’s important that content on your website be easily translated for screen reader software.  Users of screen reader software maintain some amazing skills that the rest of us don’t have, and probably don’t think about:

  • Some users can process content that is read at up to 300 words per minute.  Most of us would be hard put to comprehend audio at 180 words per minute
  • All users tend to skim headlines, screen reader users more than most – and they aren’t as likely to be influenced by visual elements like white space in your layout or intriguing images that call attention to key elements either
  • Screen readers have kept the keyboard skills that most of us lost when we got our first mouse, and they are likely to tab through content searching for active elements on the page, such as links.  And if those links say “click here” they have zero context for what that link does, which makes it useless to them

The Wrong Way to Write Links for Accessibility

Sometimes when writing web content that answers a common question we can get into the habit of directly telling people what to do, like this:

“It is important that you complete your FAFSA application to be eligible for many forms of financial aid available at My University.  The FAFSA can be completed electronically or via downloadable pdf* at the Federal Student Aid website.  To get started on your FAFSA application, click here.”

Based on screen reader skillsets, using “click here” is frustrating for the user at best, and useless in answering their question at worst, if you want to impart key information to users with vision disabilities.  This is an issue that’s easy to fix – it just requires a quick change to your perspective and sentence structure as you write your content. 

A Better Way to Write Links for Accessibility

“It is important that you complete your FAFSA application to be eligible for many forms of financial aid available at My University.  Get a head start on the process and start your FAFSA now.  Download the printable pdf FAFSA or complete your FAFSA online at the federal Student Aid website.”

Keeping best practices for users with disabilities in mind as you write your website content will improve overall usability (UX) for all users, you can learn more about how it works at the following sites.

Web Accessibility Resource Links

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Topics: Enhance Digital and Social Media

Why Are My Fingerprints on the Knife in My Back?

Posted by Bob Sevier

Aug 18, 2014 3:22:56 PM

A number of years ago, I read a book by Jerry Harvey. It had a great title: How Come Every Time I Get Stabbed in the Back My Fingerprints Are on the Knife? The book centers around a series of meditations and observations on how and why individuals and organizations self-destruct.

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Topics: Write a Plan

Social Media Content Management in Higher Ed

Posted by Lisa Giurato

Aug 14, 2014 9:38:00 AM

Content in social media is a fluid and ever growing body. Your content body grows in different plots along the time-space continuum. Some of your content cannot and should not be scheduled ahead of time. News-worthy events and announcements cannot always be predicted. A win or an award should be celebrated in real time and posted on your social media platforms. Some of the social media platforms, like Twitter, can be seen as the institutional water cooler, where remarks as innocuous as commenting on the latest winter snowfall on campus might be considered worthy of a tweet. These kinds of social media content stem from the now, the immediate moment along the time-space continuum plot from which we unearth and grow our social media content body. They are important for building a social community, developing trust and transparency, and creating conversational chatter that your followers (especially current students, staff, and faculty) appreciate.

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Topics: Enhance Digital and Social Media

Songs You Don’t Know You Know

Posted by Joan Benson

Aug 13, 2014 7:54:04 AM

Yesterday’s Music

I may be ancient and I certainly am a boomer (youngest cohort thereof, I’ll have you know, young whippersnapper!), but I didn’t go to Woodstock. I was eight.

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Topics: Write a Plan

Hit the Dragon with a Map

Posted by Joan Benson

Aug 4, 2014 8:55:00 AM

Following a Vision Takes Courage

August 3: I imagine that moment before the voyage. The docks are relatively quiet. Most inbound ships have already tied up, unloaded, and released their crews to sleep or liberty. The liquid golden light of an early summer evening in the south of Spain washes over three ships waiting for the tide to turn.

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Topics: Write a Plan

Seven Strangers Picked to Live in House

Posted by Quint Howell

Jul 29, 2014 4:12:02 PM

I was exactly a year old when MTV launched. A channel that was dedicated to playing music video for 24 hours a day. I have always had a strange love/hate relationship with MTV. Besides being a lover of music and sharing the same birthday, I grew up watching MTV and like many young people since its inception was influenced by some of it’s content.

I was four when I saw “Thriller” for the first time. I was glued for all 13 minutes watching in horror as my favorite artist turned into a werewolf. Needless to say, there were a lot of sleepless nights worrying that the poster hanging on my wall would also transform.

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Topics: Understand Your Audiences

Dare to Be Bold

Posted by Joanna Basile

Jul 22, 2014 10:23:00 AM

A lot of people are afraid to be bold. And it’s understandable why. Being bold can be scary. You put yourself/your beliefs/your identity/your brand out there and hope that others will have the same enthusiasm for it as you. That others won’t reject you.

But there’s no guarantee. It’s why so many people and so many brands take the safe approach—so as not to upset or offend or shock. Those brands are forgettable, though. The dauntless ones are those that are memorable, that stick with you over time. And not taking advantage of that is an unfortunate lost opportunity to make a lasting impression on someone.

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Topics: Bolster Your Brand

Where’s Your Mars?

Posted by Joan Benson

Jul 16, 2014 10:20:00 AM

I’m a techno-wannabe. Have been all my life. As a kid, I read Popular Science and dreamed of flying cars and cold fusion. In college, back in the days before—well, everything—most of my classmates wrote their papers on typewriters. Manual typewriters.

Somehow, I weaseled my way into the good graces of people who knew how to (get this) do word processing on the Xerox mainframe buried in the library basement. If that doesn’t raise goose bumps on your arms, you must be under 45. Of course, I only learned enough programming to write the papers because, for me, the writing has always won out over the actual science.

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Topics: Bolster Your Brand

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