The Killing of American Higher Education (Part 3)

Alan J. Yeck

The Dirty, Rotten, Crooked, Broken, Student Loan System and the Immoral Bankers, Brokers, Collectors, and Corrupt Politicians Who Make Billions Off of It While the Courts Garnish Wages and Destroys Lives

The Black Hole of Incompetent Leadership in Higher Education

Universities teach business education (best practices in leadership, management, finance, accounting, organizational behavior, HR, etc., and all the processes that go with these) but they seldom apply it to their own operations. It can often be an ego-driven, personality-based free-for-all from the top down in constant turmoil hidden from outside eyes.

A 2018 report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has the U.S. spending more on higher education than any other country in the world with the exception of Luxembourg (college is free  for the citizens of the small country, so we’re still number one on higher education spending) but the results are far from what they should be.

Andreas Schleicher, OECD director for education and skills says that “The U.S. is in a class of its own… Spending per student is exorbitant, and it has virtually no relationship to the value that students could possibly get in exchange.” Averaging $30,000 per student the U.S. spends double what the other developed countries spend. The $1.6 trillion question is, why?

According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics comparing the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for all goods, the average annual increase in college tuition between 1980 and 2019 grew by nearly 300 percent compared to a 120 percent increase for everything else. This is only the average tuition cost increase; there are many public and private institutions that have increased much more. In one generation, we have crippled the great equalizer of education and placed millions of Americans in a modern-day debtor’s prison. The extent of the damage and destruction that is being done to our country from this system is deep, wide and if not addressed in full, will have a cataclysmic effect on the nation’s health for decades.

State Reductions in Subsidies

Over the last 30 years, public dollars spent on higher education were drastically reduced year after year, and the only way for higher education to survive was to increase tuition and pass the financial burden on to the consumer – and that model continues to this day. I’ve heard this repeated over and over by senior administration to the trustees, the faculty, the parents, so much so that they begin to believe it.

The fact is that in inflation-adjusted public dollars, much more is spent on higher education today than in the 1970s. In fact, public investment in higher education is more than ten times what it was then. Compare this to military spending in the same time period which only increased twice as much. States did significantly reduce funding during the last great recession, but we are still looking at an $80+ billion subsidy, so it still doesn’t account for the increases in the current price of post-secondary education. Studies also show that when state funding does increase, there is little reduction, if any, in tuition (Rizzo, Ehrenberg).

The Bennett Hypothesis

The Bennett Hypothesis began in 1987 when President Ronald Reagan’s Education Secretary William J. Bennett wrote in a New York Times op-ed entitled “Our Greedy Colleges” that federal government’s financial aid programs “…enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that Federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase.”

Bennett’s hypothesis has been studied and debated by scholars and economists with neither being able to clearly state cause and effect validity.  Over the last 30 years, though, we’ve seen a correlation between tuition costs increasing as federal student loans increased. When Bennett was asked about his hypothesis in a 2013 New York Times interview he said he still believes financial aid contributes to tuition increases but is not the only cause.

“If the federal government gives money, tuition goes up. If the federal government doesn’t give money, it goes up. Now, I think the availability of federal funding drives it up more quickly and more surely. Federal student aid makes it easier for colleges to do what they’re going to do anyway, which is raise tuition. There’s more money available.”

Bowen’s Rule

Howard Bowen was the president of Grinnell College and an economist who theorized in his book “Costs of Higher Education” that higher education institutions will spend all the money they are given or can spend. If they have covered all budgeted expenses, they will find something else to spend it on. On the other hand, if colleges and universities are under financial strain, instead of finding areas to cut costs, they’ll look for ways to increase revenue — tuition being the easiest way. Bowden’s Rule, alternatively known as the “revenue theory of cost” is explained in five points:

  1. The dominant goals of institutions are educational excellence, prestige, and influence.
  2. There is virtually no limit to the amount of money an institution could spend for seemingly fruitful educational ends.
  3. Each institution raises all the money it can.
  4. Each institution spends all it raises.
  5. The cumulative effect of the preceding four laws is toward ever increasing expenditure.

Tuition increases have little to do with what education is supposed to be, but rather a modern mixture of executive administration and faculty governance being marketed and sold a social media version of it. They’re raising tuition because they want the money and the more costly the institution… Well, it must be awesome (rule 1).

More Students Cost More

Because the number of people attending college today has increased, the amounts that the state and the federal governments subsidize on a per-student basis are lower than they were at the peak of appropriations in the 1990s. As demand for it increases, education requires more teachers, more support staff, more infrastructure. That is just how service industries are affected by economic growth. While there’s truth in that, it doesn’t explain why higher education costs in the U.S. are double and triple what they are in similarly developed countries.

Employee Costs

The increases to faculty salaries and the increased cost of healthcare benefits have driven up operational costs, which could only be paid off by increasing tuition.

In the 1970s, the vast majority of faculty teaching on campus were full-time employees. Today, it is not uncommon to have more part-time adjunct (non-tenure track) faculty teaching than full-time. These faculty are paid per course they teach, and most do not receive any benefits. Full-time faculty salaries at the majority of colleges and universities have remained relatively flat throughout the last 30 years. This year, there was an average increase of 2 percent, but the inflation rate was 1.9 percent. I will note that there are professors whose salaries are in the six figures, but they are the exception and not the norm. The average salary for a teacher is less today than it was 40 years ago.

Administrative Bloat

In 1980, colleges spent $21 billion on instruction (41 percent of total spending) and $13 billion for all other support services (26 percent of total spending). Data from the National Center for Educational Statistics shows U.S. public degree-granting institutions today spend $372 billion total with 42 percent of that amount being spent on instruction and 37 percent on support services. Spending on instruction increased by 1 percent while administrative spending increased 16 percent, meaning universities are spending about the same on administration as they do on instruction (their raison d’être).

Some of these increases can be attributed to an increasing number of rules and regulations from the Department of Education that require significantly more resources to ensure compliance. There are also more programs for students who are struggling academically with tutoring services, career counseling, and internships. The U.S. also leads the world in money spent on non-teaching staff who do not provide direct academic support such as campus safety, alumni relations, admissions, recruiters, fundraising, financial aid, athletic, diversity and inclusion, food service, and maintenance staff. There are senior executives who are being paid an outrageous, questionable amount of money but the increases have not been given to senior executives so much as those working professional support jobs.  Administrative positions increased by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, ten times the growth rate of tenured faculty in the same time period.


College sports can make a great deal of money for some schools… For a few schools… For very few schools, so the vast majority are losing money from their sports programs. These programs can only be supported through direct and indirect financing through fees, general funds, tuition…  Every student is therefore paying more to support the sports programs. Schools argue that they attract more students and therefore increase overall revenue, but athletes are often given some type of scholarship ranging from a full ride to a reduction in costs (as is the case with NCAA Division III schools, which are forbidden from offering scholarships but can offer deep discounts. Go figure).  The vast majority of college sports are subsidized programs, and those costs are again passed on to the student. I personally support college athletics but believe the costs associated with them need to be completely transparent to potential students.

The University Amusement Parks, Books of Gold and the Mystery of “Fees”

Last year, a higher education institution spent a record $12 billion on constructing new facilities to attract students, including the infamous lazy river where student can destress by floating around an amusement park-like water attraction. There are climbing walls, shiny new sports facilities, gourmet dining and luxury dorms. Some of these additions may be paid for by outside funds or alumni, but ultimately, the inevitable maintenance and repair fees ahead will be added into budgets, and those budgets will be passed on to the students. Universities want more students, but there is no legitimate argument for the welfare of the student taking priority over revenue. They have created a machine, and it needs a great deal of cash for those gears to keep turning.


Not seen when parents and students are looking at the costs of education are the textbooks. Compared to your basic bookstore non-fiction novel, which has actually decreased in costs, textbooks have more than doubled, increasing four times faster than inflation. This escalation goes hand-in-hand with the rest of the student loan industry. The four major publishers that control the majority of the textbook market, charge what they want because they know customers will be obliged to pay. New texts can run easily into a few to several hundred dollars, often with multiple books needed for each course.

Fees: Hidden Costs of College

In the last 20 years, fees have increased 30 percent more than the outrageous tuition increases, but rarely are they talked about. The bottom line is that fees, as in ‘tuition and fees’ are a way for institutions to amass more money without it being seen as increasing tuition. Increasing tuition normally requires trustee or state approvals, but fees can be tacked on at will – and they are. Need more money to cover employee salaries? Add an orientation fee. Short on funds for the new sports uniforms? Create a technology use fee. Paying with a credit card? Convenience fee. Drop a class – fee. Add a class – fee. And on and on and on… Because many of these fees can be hidden in dense college bulletins, in the fine print, while others are only applicable to specific programs, students often don’t see the full picture of college costs until their bills become due. Senior management at these colleges and universities have made the decision to bring their institutions and higher education down to the lowest possible ethical operations without crossing the line into true fraud, but they are damn close.

Are You Shitting Me?

Public (your tax dollars) university presidents are paid like CEOs of Fortune 500 corporations. I do not fault them for saying ‘yes’ to their exorbitant salaries but rather condemn the trustees, who are supposed to act as students’ guardians, holding their best interests in mind and actions. A full report including the top paying private institutions, can be found here. If you don’t want to look at the list, though, I can break it down for you simply. The lowest-paid president among the top-50 university presidents made more in 2018 (including base, bonuses and non-taxable income) than the highest-paid state governor.

We look to these leaders to hold dear the public trust of higher education, yet they appear to be completely out of touch with their own students’ challenges and needs. They fear the trustees, only, and have no sympathy for the debt their graduates will carry for many years after they themselves have retired with the title of president emeritus/emerita and dedicated campus office. If this is not the case, where are their voices in addressing the corrupt student loan system in which they have become key players?  Their bloated salaries and positions mean more to them than those they are supposed to be taking care of. Piss. Poor. Leadership. The maniacal cost of higher education isn’t because of just one thing but a consistent mismanagement of university funds and priorities. Because education cannot oversee itself, we must demand our elected officials at the state and federal levels call out this waste and abuse and hold senior leadership accountable. Until that is done, costs will continue to rise and continue to be passed on to the students.

This is the third installment of a five-part series by Alan Yeck reflecting on the student loan system, its challenges, and the far-reaching effects it can have. For a full list of works cited, please view the last installment in the series.

We have the power to change the business of education back to a right for all. Contact your representatives and ask them to listen to these facts and national narratives.

Read Part 1 here

Read Part 2 here

Fear Based Leadership

By Alan J. Yeck

A letter of support was requested by a well-known, highly respected community entity for a grant they were submitting that would address extreme poverty in the area. They were not asking for anyone to commit to financial support or any type of in-kind resources but just a note on letterhead saying the project was worthwhile and that the business wholeheartedly supports it (not uncommon in grant applications at all). They had received several other letters already but because this organization actually participated with them in other community committees their support was a natural flow, or should have been a natural flow. These types of letters of support can easily be done by mid-level management but at this particular company ‘only the president has the authority to sign these.’ Fine, have the president sign it.

Weeks later this manager received an email reminder about the letter of support – the community organization still have not received anything from them and the deadline for submitting the grant was fast approaching. The mid-level manager had a meeting with the president that day and it would be mentioned in their discussions – ‘should not be a problem.’ That afternoon, after not hearing, it was brought back up again and they were told that the president was never asked to sign it. Why?


This mid-level manager was told by a senior executive not to mention the grant to the president that day because she was upset with one of her vice presidents who didn’t do what he was supposed to do with a similar grant. The deadline passed and they did not provide the requested letter of support. The manager was left hung out to dry and had to face the organization that they didn’t help a few weeks later at another committee meeting. As far as they knew, it was the error of that person, their incompetence as to why they didn’t provide the letter of support – not fear of the president. They couldn’t say, “Oh, sorry but apparently the president’s leaders and managers are scared shitless of her so they never asked.”

In these types of requests, especially from community organizations, you must see in your mind’s eye what the local newspaper headlines could be – “This Company Refuses to Help the Poor of Our Community!” They not only did NOT help this organization with their anti-poverty program, they alienated themselves from them all together. There was no reason for them not to issue a letter of support other than internal incompetence that thrives on fear and affected the entire business.

Besides the micromanagement from the executive offices, the need for absolute control, the organizational culture was that of fear and job security. A culture of fear existed for mid-level managers and produced the exact results one would think; system-wide ineptitude. 

Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

By Alan J. Yeck

Just when I thought the political fruit cake couldn’t get any nuttier, I woke to the news that Hillary Clinton, in a discussion with Nancy Pelosi, shared her own conspiracy theory that President Trump called Vladimir Putin on the day of the riot at the Capital. I find myself going back and forth between being entertained by the moron platform (well used by both parties) to really pissed off that this is even in the news. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s not? That’s why we wait for facts before holding public hearings. I don’t like Trump but I don’t like Biden either. I don’t like any of them and this is just another example of ‘why.’ Their intense, personal hatred of Trump comes first and foremost, well before issues that are affecting and destroying the American people on a daily basis. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord…and Hillary and Nancy. Don’t you wish they were that consumed with the fraudulent, student loan industry? Don’t you wish they spent their energy on campaign finance reform, or healthcare, or a distribution plan for the COVID vaccine? Don’t you wish all of them had their heads out of their asses and actually worked for the welfare of the American people? I do.

The next WTF moment came with two commercials on the networks; one was about TV news personality, Katie Couric, being interviewed by the news, about Trump. The other promo was about the news, interviewing CBS News White House correspondent, Major Garrett, on Trump. This is what we do now – the news interviews the news and makes it news when it’s not news at all. Again, I’m not defending nor supporting any of the politicians including Trump, but is it a surprise, to anyone in the country, how the mainstream news networks loathe Trump? I’m not saying they don’t have good reason – I’m saying they are news networks and not gossip tabloids (or shouldn’t be gossip tabloids). If you also loathe Trump do you need more loathing ammo? If you support Trump, does this ease your fears as we transition to a new Biden administration? Maybe try reporting on how much money from Super PACs go to which politicians? How about where the thousands upon thousands of lobbyists spend their time, and money, in Washington? How about using the power of the press to bring real, lasting change to a country desperately needing it, by real reporting and not a vendetta agenda. Do you understand that as you also seek your pound of old, white, flabby, flesh that you only create more mistrust in what you report on?  The only difference between you and The National Enquirer is…nothing. Except I did see Elvis in an Asheville head shop so the Enquirer’s reporting on that was true. 

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The Solutions to the Student Loan Crisis Don’t Require NASA

By Alan J. Yeck, Founder

At the end of the article he wrote last year, Daniel M. Johnson, What Will It Take to Solve the Student Loan Crisis? responded to the question about whether there is a solution to the student loan scam with “Maybe.” While his piece was focused on the cost of education, which is completely valid and must also be addressed, it is but one part of a solution. “But one thing has become increasingly clear: solutions to the high cost of higher education and the student loan crisis will not come from the higher education establishment.” I completely agree with Daniel on this point. Higher education administration has not focused on reducing costs in any meaningful way for decades. It does so when it’s forced to and it’s never about serving the students, which is why the expenses continue to rise and passed on to the students and their families. Containing costs at the institutions are one aspect of the student loan crisis but all roads lead to Washington D.C. We are in this mess because of legislation they passed, and continue to support, that generates money back to their own campaigns through Super PACs. Lasting solutions are there but it means our elected officials, House and Senate, will have to do the ethically, right thing. I want to believe that still exists in Congress but I am hard pressed to give an example. Blue and Red are equally dirty and corrupt. Joe DiMaggio has been gone for a long, long time.

Restore full bankruptcy rights to student loan borrowers

There was never a valid reason to criminalize student loans. When it was first enacted in the early 1970s, there was less than a 1% default rate, and it was out of concern for what Congress thought of as expensive degrees, specifically law and medical – that the lawyers and doctors wouldn’t pay back their loans. At that time the law was that student loans couldn’t be included in bankruptcy until 5 years after graduation. Over the next few decades, in combination with the increasing availability of federal loans and the explosion of the for-profit institutions, Congress continued to “tweak” the rules as the money flow also increased into their own pockets. Finally in 2005 only those who qualify under an ambiguous “undue hardship” which is determined by each and every individual court could student loans be included in bankruptcy (you have a better shot at winning the lottery than a judge with a backbone dismissing your student loan). Once that right was removed, the cost of education skyrocketed which in turn brought out the corporate shit-eating-dogs known as ‘loan servicers’ (Navient, et al).

Solving the student loan debt crisis isn’t like working on global warming, it really isn’t rocket science. A few hundred people that were elected to take care of the people can do it very quickly – a lasting solution can put in place in 2021 but they would have to stop taking the money. Well, hell…now that I think of it, I guess I’m going to stop and get a lottery ticket on the way home. You should too.

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#altraged #studentloandebt #corruption #bankruptcy #buisness #innovation #elections2020 #highered #leadership

Defiance. We Must Fight!

An excerpt from The Killing of American Education, Part 1

By Alan J. Yeck, Founder

I went back to school in 40’s to get a better job. I got an Associate,Bachelors and a Masters. Almost 9 yrs later I don’t have a better job but I have almost $80,000 of debt. No matter how much I pay the balance doesn’t go down. I am at my wits end. I don’t know what to do. I barely have gas money to get to work to pay this bill.   LaDean Mitchell   March 14, 2019  Phillipsburg  (

I cannot keep up with all the lawsuits filed in the last several years against the student loan industry including the (self) servicing agencies, Department of Education, Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and their new leader Kathy Kraninger. What I want you to understand is that the status quo of the system is completely and utterly broken and in complete chaos driven by unprecedented greed and corruption. Below is by no means a complete list –

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed against Navient in 2017 (when Seth Frothman was still there fighting for American consumers) for “systematically and illegally failed borrowers at every stage of the repayment by”

  • steering borrowers toward more expensive forbearance instead of affordable repayment plans;
  • misleading borrowers about the options available;
  • payments processed incorrectly.

Attorneys General of California, Illinois, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Arkansas, Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Washington as well as the Securities Exchange Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have launched investigations and/or filed lawsuits against this industry for fraud and unfair practices.  

I was denied Public Student Loan Forgiveness and Temporary Public Student Loan Forgiveness after working at an eligible nonprofit for the 10 required years (2007-2017). I still work there, but hate that I was denied forgiveness twice. I feel like I was lied to by the federal government and it angers me. I am even angrier that so many people like me were denied as well.   Kelly Ascheman   February 14, 2019  Blaine (

New York state sued the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA), aka American Education Services. New York Attorney General Letitia James said they “failed miserably” in their servicing of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. 

I previously mentioned Seth Frothman who resigned from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as its chief ombudsman over student loans. In his resignation letter to the than acting director Mick Mulvaney, Frothman stated the administration “has turned its back on young people and their financial futures…unfortunately, under your leadership, the Bureau has abandoned the very consumers it is tasked by Congress with protecting…instead, you have used the Bureau to serve the wishes of the most powerful financial companies in America.”

“What Da Wybe Is” In Higher Education Leadership?

Let them eat conch

By Alan J. Yeck

Leadership, great leadership, goes beyond art and science to something that is often undefined by those who study it and even the practitioners themselves. In the context of varying, and often challenging situations, great leadership is clearly and consistently visible. Where does that je ne sais quoi ultimately originate? What is it about those we choose to follow (not forced to follow), which honors the trust and respect we give to them, which they give to us? There are people we report to and people who supervise and manage, but being a great leader is an entirely different dimension and one that many do not seem to grasp. The position or role may be one for leadership but that does not mean a leader sits in the chair. It is not a rank for we see generals that cannot lead. It is not wealth or power for we see CEOs that are more business dictators than leaders. Nor it is their level of education for we see college and university presidents running their campuses like first time teachers with badly managed classrooms. There is an organic element, applicable to every decision regardless of the industry, or issue at hand, and is too often missing in higher education today. 

 No matter how much post-secondary education wants to believe it is above the routine fray of other corporate entities, it is still a business. It is the business of education. Regardless of the tax classifications (nonprofit, for-profit, private) there are processes and procedures just as pertinent, prudent, and necessary to a university as they are to Microsoft, Walmart or US Steel. Higher education teaches business but rarely uses those same tools and best practices within its own hallowed halls. How many senior leaders on campus are Six Sigma certified? Project management certified? Certified human resources, certified public accounts, certified financial planners…etc? Too often, administrators are brought in or moved up without the experience, knowledge or skills required by their positions. Their mentors, if any, climbed the same status quo ladders so are incapable of seeing the gaps, let alone help in those areas. What we end up with, for leadership, is a group of nice, well-meaning people that probably excelled in something, at some time in their careers but are ill equipped to lead an institution. We see poor decisions made throughout the country resulting in inflated costs of education, poor on-time completion rates, and increased attrition rates with apathy being the campus modus operandi. These do not happen because our students Jenna and Jerome could not do the work but because their campuses were so intentionally unaware that the resources to help were never put in the right place at the right time with the right people. In education, all rubrics, including financial measurements, should flow back and forth from the goal of our students’ development, not internally for the occasional accreditation visits. It is a living process, constantly nurtured, free from fear, with the common understanding that we can be better – we must do better. Good leadership removes silos and barriers that inhibit teamwork, open communications and it openly values every member of the organization.  

I recently heard about a small, liberal arts college in the northeast struggling to keep the doors open as so many similar institutions have closed over the last several years. A previous president and his board borrowed $40 million dollars to build a new dormitory, a monumental structure complete with gargoyles and the president’s face (and his wife’s face too) chiseled above the entrance. While built in 2006 it looks like a palatial estate from the 1880s – truly a beautiful piece of architecture where a prince would have stayed if not Harry Potter himself. Normally there would have been a capital campaign to fundraise for this kind of project but instead they went to Wells Fargo and borrowed it. As enrollment continued to declined, all the college’s endowments were eaten-up over the next 10 years – reduced to nothing. After realizing they would never be able to pay back Wells Fargo, the college renegotiated and the bank forgave $30 million of the $40 million loan. The other $10 million was ponied-up as a loan from some of the school’s trustees. Day-to-day operational funding came from tuition revenue only. Bills went unpaid and projects on hold until the tuition checks rolled in. Major maintenance (roof repairs, elevator repairs…) were delayed, if done at all. The president, ever board-focused, would terminate various senior officers around him, which also allowed the blame game after they were gone, then he brought in unqualified friends, who brought in their friends. What money there was, now spent on new systems that did not integrate with old systems that never integrated with any of the other systems before anyways – a ‘if you always do what you’ve always done…’ approach to operations. Consultants were paid to bring new program ideas, which they obtained by asking faculty what they thought was needed, reviewing local Department of Labor data, and a few interviews including board members – all of which did nothing to slow declining enrollments. Not being able to afford an experienced or even inexperienced provost, faculty rotated this position every few years with the main requirement to obtain the job being, they said they would do it. No other management, leadership or position experience required. Nice people though.

The last pay increase that occurred for faculty and staff was several years ago although they’ve been promised, again, a one percent raise sometime in the near future, after HR developed the new employee appraisal system. There have been layoffs, attrition, and faculty positions left unfilled to save money; major support offices (IT, registrar, campus safety, student services, continuing education, marketing, recruitment, and graduate studies) operated with a skeletal crew. All continued to do the best they could with what they had, understanding the situation and hoping for better news to come. Senior administration (leadership) kept promising pay increases and new strategic directions to put them back on a solid plan of growth and opportunity. Meetings were held, new committees formed – a cornucopia of the correct buzzwords for educational management were dropped broadly and often.

The department chair’s meeting was at noon on a Wednesday, early February. One of the agenda items was “college culture” or specifically college morale. As the discussions took place on previous agenda items, discussions about more things the chairs would need to do, more reports, more things for them to ask their faculty to do, more committees for them to be on, it bled nicely to campus morale. There was no question in anyone’s minds how low morale was. You can ask your people to do extraordinary amounts of work because of a situation, and most will roll up their sleeves and do it, but you can’t continue to ask them to that on and on and on with no end in sight. It degrades themselves, their work and destroys morale. The current acting provost suggested a solution, “maybe the college could do a year-end mixer.” How do you fixed overworked, underpaid, unappreciated employees? Cocktail sausages and toast points! What never came up was that he was leaving on a 6:00 a.m. flight the next morning with four other senior administrators to join the president and another vice president who were already there, for a board meeting in the Bahamas. The pictures of the beach and water posted by the vice president on Facebook looked wonderful. At a previous all-faculty meeting a week before, faculty asked administration if they could speak to the board at their next meeting. Nothing was ever mentioned that it would be taking place in the Bahamas. I guess senior leadership just forgot about the upcoming trip. I mean after all, ‘what da wybe is,’ which is Bahamian for ‘what’s the problem?’ Success belongs to the team but the road to and from failure always has direct paths to leadership. Always.

For those out there thinking at least this was a good ‘team building outing’ allow me expand a bit more on this story. As I said the president and one of the vice presidents had left a day or two before with their spouses. The other five were scheduled to leave the Thursday before the Friday meeting with a planned arrival at the beach later that day. One of the five missed the 6:00 a.m. departure flight so now there were four flying into Detroit to make their connecting flight. Once there, they had less than an hour to get to their next gate, (if you’re transiting Detroit, inevitably, your next gate is always on the other side of wherever you landed). One of the four, a wonderful African American woman (the single person of color in any administration role) has a physical condition that limited the speed and distance she could walk. So, what did the others do? After admonishing that person for not making arrangements with the airline in advance to have someone at the gate to take them in a wheelchair or golf cart to the next gate, the other three abandoned her and dashed off to the next gate. The provost, the VP of advancement and the president’s administrative executive assistant (invited to entertain the spouses during the board meeting). Sometimes unseen adverse circumstances make the very best team building opportunities. This was not one of those times.

A few days later, Friday, the area was hit with a major snowstorm falling on another layer of ice that accumulated over the night. All local schools and many businesses closed, and the snow kept coming. This campus was a residential campus, meaning students lived on campus and could walk to their classes. Terrible weather would not prevent that. What it does prevent is the safe travel to and from campus for employees and staff. The roads were terrible and those coming in drove past accidents and spinouts. As all senior administrators were enjoying their conch omelets in the Bahamas, the person left in charge, (which nobody knew he was in charge because the president did not inform the campus that he was leaving) had no experience with this kind of situation. One of the trustees, on the island for the meeting, had heard from a relative back in the U.S. that the storm was ‘not that bad.’ and relayed that to the person running/not running the campus. No cancellations. No delays. Employees were expected to report on time as usual, or they could take a vacation day (as it was pointed out when anxiety about the dangers was expressed). Faculty canceled most classes because they were not going to risk their lives. Some staff dug themselves out and made it in. Others took a vacation day. I believe there must be other places just as demoralized and mismanaged. Somewhere. Ukraine? 

I started this piece noting that trying to define what makes great leaders goes beyond the arts and sciences, that it goes beyond position, wealth, or power. I have to also point out that the opposite of piss poor leadership, as reflected by the beach boys and girls above, is not great leadership either (although they are in no danger of being an example of that). We know great leaders share common qualities such as commitment, confidence, inspiration, honesty, empathy, vision…but what I’m speaking about is where these traits ultimately grow from. Great leadership begins and ends with the soul of the leader. It is a complete, conscious, tightly encompassed philosophy to value above all else those whom they have been given the great responsibility of leading. The roots are deep, and must be, because powerful storms will come. Great leaders recognize both the frailty and the unbelievable strengths within us all. This is not something to overcome but to hold dearly and model from when creating the culture of an organization. Great leaders recognize we are all the same beings on a short journey best taken together with support and love. Build your leadership, culture, company, house from here and see your life, and the lives of those you are responsible for, change for the better regardless of external conditions, despite the storms out of your control. This does not guarantee success from a Wall Street point of view, but neither does the Wall Street point of view. It aligns lives correctly with the time we have, in the place we are, to the unmistakable joy of our existence together. Anything else is just another trip to the Bahamas.  

Walking Dead Higher Ed: Leadership In A Pandemic

By Alan J. Yeck

Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been over 300,000 cases and 80 deaths at U.S. colleges and universities, according to a survey done by The New York Times of 2000 campuses. Of note is that the majority of cases occurred since the start of the fall semester (almost 70,000 cases since the start of this month). Also, given there is no national tracking system The Times relied upon the institutions’ self-reporting but at least 70 ignored requests while another 80 said they had zero cases. What we know about data is its ease in manipulation, and what we know about higher education is its ease in lack of transparency. The reality is that those numbers are likely higher than being reported/discovered.

The other numbers that are directly related to COVID are the job losses in education. According to an analysis by The Pew Charitable Trusts, since the start of the pandemic state colleges and universities are down 14% with some exceeding 20%. Declining enrollment, already a huge problem prior to the pandemic, continues to increase the financial strain. As state funding is reduced, declining enrollment revenue, and increased costs of COVID testing, their budgets are in complete chaos. 2021 doesn’t look to be any better. There is no surprise that most states are projecting greater revenue declines, which directly affects the already minimal aid given to education. Declining revenue and increased costs will surely mean more layoffs.

Now we have transparency of the problem. Now we can see the challenge – keeping revenue up enough to keep colleges open while not killing any more students or staff. Keep people safe but keep the money flowing. That’s a tough problem but I do have the answer – you can’t. Anyone who says the teaching and learning is just as good as it was a year ago is in denial or a liar (or maybe in denial that they’re a liar). The learning taking place on many of the colleges today is poorly done regardless of the quality of the instructor or the student. Fatigue coupled with curriculum never meant to be taught online to students who were never meant to take these classes online by faculty who were never meant to teach these classes online means learning outcomes blur down to, survival. Nothing more. Senior leadership and trustees must realize they are not only robbing the students tuition but wasting the students’ time and cheating them with a subpar product. It’s a pandemic and the issues need to be addressed as if it were a pandemic – because it is. We will recover but if your plan is to keep the lights on at the students’ expense, it’s a poor plan from poor leadership.

Colleges and universities must work together and present a unified front to the state capitals and Washington. Remember these are the same folks that bailed out Wall Street after the mortgage crisis (which Wall Street causes in the first place). Your voices must be loud and in unison. Do not let them ignore you or surely you will fall, one by one.

There will be more layoffs until this is under control but stop passing that burden down to the students. It’s a pandemic.

Institutions that bring students back on campus to fill dorm rooms to ensure their money flow should be held liable for any deaths they cause. It’s a pandemic.

While there is no argument that success in teaching and learning, historically (but not exclusively) has been through a classroom experience, historically we haven’t done this in a pandemic. Yes, again, it’s a pandemic.

Higher education leaders who would risk students, faculty and staff (and their families) to make up for years of financial mismanagement are playing a dangerous game. Take care of your people, first and foremost and brighter days will return for all. It’s a pandemic.

#highered #higheredleadership #highereducationleadership #highereducation #studentloans #studentloandebt #altraged #election2020 #corruption #elections2020 #education #students #dirtypolitics #teachers #school #teaching #teacher #backtoschool #blmmovement #kamalaharris #joebiden #trump #elizabethwarren #womenempowerment #business #innovation #covid19learning


Alan J. Yeck

The Strong Retirement Act of 2020 is a bipartisan bill proposed by Congressmen Kevin Brady, R-Texas and Richard Neal, D-Mass.  I want you to focus on the student debt part, they so kindly included. The bill would allow businesses to pay a 401(k) match to workers paying off student loans, even if those borrowers aren’t saving in the company retirement plan. In a summary of the bill, they state “The idea is that employees who are overwhelmed with student debt may not realistically be able to save for retirement, and thus are missing out on available matching contributions.”

What the WTF? So instead of addressing the multiple issues and corruption in the student loan industry, the source of the problem, they’re going to concentrate on the symptom of being “overwhelmed by student debt,” and let the company contribute to a 401(k) that I’m sure the government, via Navient, et al, will garnish later (if you weren’t aware our cowardly judicial system will enforce garnishments on wages, tax returns, social security payments to collect on student loans that were fraudulent to begin with).

Congressmen – listen to your own bill! “…employees who are overwhelmed with student debt may not realistically be able to save for retirement.” Why are they overwhelmed with student debt? Because of bogus efforts like this that do nothing to fix the student loan scam you (i.e. Congress) created for the American people. Holy shit. How crooked can our politicians be?

Two different people, two different parties, two different states. You know politicians don’t drink public water there so it has to be the air in those old buildings. They’re probably breathing in a mixture of their own hot rhetoric combined with skin microparticles from hundreds of years of old white men.  Their brains, and their souls, are gone.

#corruption #altraged #dirtypolitics #business #studentloandebt #highereducation #highereducationleadership #innovation #blm #womensrights

Tell Me Joe…

By Alan J. Yeck, Founder, AltRaged

This is not about who you are voting for or who you should vote for – vote for whoever you want. This is about the irreputable, verifiable, criminal student loan scam our government continues to operate like a shell game on 42nd and Broadway. Tell me Joe. Tell me what you’re going to do for the 40 million Americans with student loan debt?

Joe says he’s going to eliminate student debt if I come from a family making less than $125,000 (but only if I went to a public university).

Joe says he’s going to wipe out my loans if I went to a historically black college/university or private institutions that are minority-serving.

Joe says he’s going to make sure everyone gets $10,000 knocked off of their student (because of economic hardships the pandemic has caused).

Joe says he supports Liz Warren’s bill to reinstate bankruptcy rights for student loan borrowers. Joe says a lot of things, doesn’t he? Let’s talk a bit about what he’s not saying, shall we?

Joe doesn’t mention what he’s going to do to help the 10 million Americans that are currently late or in default because of a criminal, rigged system. The system is structured to facilitate defaults because there is more money to be made.

Joe doesn’t mention what he’s going to do to address the tremendously inflated costs of higher education. The cost of a degree has gone up 400% in one generation without any valid reasoning.

Joe doesn’t mention that in 2005, he was one of the many politicians who voted for a bankruptcy bill that stripped student loan borrowers of their rights, which in turn has become one of the primary causes for the $1.7 trillion student debt crisis we have today. They removed a safety valve that would have helped correct the market but in doing so has made billions of dollars for a small group of greedy FFs (Fuck Faces).

Joe doesn’t mention how much money both political parties have received from Super PACs (Navient, Telnet, et al…) to keep the broken, corrupt student loan system status quo. His changes at best, are superficial, proposed to an uninformed public for votes. He’s not helping you, or me, or students or the country. Of course no one else is either. Oh, and the shell game…doesn’t matter which walnut you pick, you lose.

Vote. Vote for the corporation of your choice but vote.


Understanding the student loan debt crisis in 1.7 trillion words or less

-Alan Yeck, Founder of AltRaged

As  it, tis the season for political promises; a chicken in every pot, cut your taxes, raise your pay, lower crime…which have pretty much been the same horseshit promises we get ever election, this time it’s what’s missing in the promise that I want you to understand.

Joe and Kam are going to pay off everyone’s education debt and make college free which just sounds awesome, “sounds” being the operative intent. Remember the devil is in the details and our politicians are very well acquainted with the devil. Very well. Because they either do not understand the multiple issues that led to our $1.7 trillion dollar student loan crisis, or they do understand and are tossing out their plan as a smoke screen to keep the political money machine in tact – I don’t know. Either way, the American people would still be fucked…again. To pay for this degree, and that degree without any other changes ensures the broken, corrupt systems in higher education and the student loan debt collection industry continue their graft to future generations. It’s like arresting the kid on the street for selling coke but the bankers laundering the money remain tucked away safety in their beds every night. Writing a blank check to criminal organizations should never be the plan unless you’re part of it and getting kickbacks, uh, I mean “campaign contributions” through PACs and Super PACs. Wait a minute…

Do not confuse accreditation with accountability in higher education. A 400% increase in tuition over one generation, over inflation in other sectors, cannot be explained by natural disaster, never ending wars, alien probings or even a pandemic. When Congress made money from the government readily available to loan to all citizens for college costs, college costs starting their peculiar rise. With the smell of money in the air, private, for-profit colleges began to sprout up everywhere. Congress smelled that money too. Prior to the mid-1970s, student loan debt could be discharged, like any other debt, in bankruptcy. Congress then, quietly, eliminated this fundamental right (which is written into the Constitution) which allowed an entire industry of cock-a-roaches to be born – the wonderful student loan collection industry (the student loan industry is ranked on the putrid, scum, lowlife scale below Nazis but above Stalin). What do you think removing bankruptcy rights did to higher education? It removed the normal market steam valve that prevented a larger explosion and warned of dire, unaddressed issues on campuses and in the system itself. It’s removal is the single greatest cause of the $1.7 trillion crisis.  Remove it and enslave people in lifelong debt with interest rates and penalty fees doubling, tripling, quadrupling the original loan amounts. All the while the campaign contributions from those making billions of dollars off of this structure continue to pour into both Democratic and Republican camps. Who would want to stop that gravy train of destruction of the American people?  Certainly not our elected officials. Congress caused this, not Jerome or Fiona or JimmyJack. Congress caused this crisis and only Congress can fix it, which is why it’s so important who would put in office. We need people who care about others more than they care about money (I know, I know, crazy talk).

So, JoeJoe, Kam, Donny T and Mikey P, et al others at the D.C. freak show, if you want to change the country for the better, start with restoring full bankruptcy rights. Bankruptcy has consequences for those that use it (not all will) and will be from a hopeless desperation caused by the sleazy fraud compounded on them and is truly their only option – no one is getting off-scott free. This begins to realign the higher ed markets and helps address the highly inflated cost and fiscal mismanagement in higher education. Free education is possible but until we fix the current corrupt system, you’re just stealing from a different pocket on a different day (and still getting your cut of the scam – right?). 

#highered #highereducationleadership #higheredleadership #studentloans #studentloandebt #dirtypolitics #elections2020 #corruption #bankruptcylaw #writers #altraged