Showing posts with label Barnes & Noble. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Barnes & Noble. Show all posts

Sunday, January 31, 2021

When did university book stores become T-shirt shops?

 I live about a mile from the Barne & Noble bookstore, the official bookstore for Louisiana State University. Yesterday, I walked over for a cup of hot chocolate at the bookstore's Starbucks coffee shop.

While the barista was constructing my cocoa (a laborious business), I contemplated the murals above the counter. Overhead, I saw some of the great English-language authors: Faulkner, Hardy, Joyce, Kipling, Melville, Nabakov, Shaw, Whitman, and others. 

I found myself wondering whether Barnes & Noble sold any books by the authors who are celebrated at Starbucks.  It is a college bookstore, after all.

So I went upstairs to the store's tiny "fiction and literature" section and looked for works by these famous writers.  Most of them I couldn't find: no Kipling, no Nabakov, no Whitman. 

I did see some comic books, however, in a section titled "graphic novels."  And I saw a hell of a lot of  $20 LSU T-shirts, $70 LSU sweatshirts, and hundreds of LSU ballcaps, selling for $25 a pop.

I also saw $9 LSU wine glasses and $27 LSU waterbottles. And I saw a pile of stuffed animals depicting Mike, the LSU tiger mascot.

In fact, as I scanned both floors of LSU's bookstore, I realized that Barnes & Noble's campus address isn't a bookstore at all; it's a T-shirt shop.  Yes, it sells some textbooks in an obscure corner, but most of the space is dedicated to overpriced souvenirs. 

I am not saying LSU students should be reading the authors who are memorialized at the Starbooks coffee shop.  I've read some Faulkner, some George Bernard Shaw, some of Henry James's excruciatingly dull novels. In my opinion, students can skip all that.

But I find it unsettling to see LSU students swiping their credit cards to buy exorbitantly priced junk and $5 lattes. Why? Because I know many of these students are purchasing that stuff with their student-loan money. 

If these students graduate and can't find good jobs--and many of them won't--what will be their best option? For millions, it will be to sign up for a 25-year income-based repayment plan. That's a high price to pay for an LSU T-shirt.






Monday, December 7, 2015

College presidents' salaries are going up. Don't governing boards know they can hire dunderheads for a lot less money?

Salaries for private college presidents went up 5.6 percent between 2012 and 2013, according to a  Chronicle of Higher Education survey. Lee Bollinger is the highest paid president. He made $4.6 million in total compensation in the survey year. Amy Gutmann ranked second. Her total compensation was more than $3 million in the year of the survey including a bonus totally a cool million and a half.

Lots of these academic high rollers get salary enhancements in the form of puffball performance bonuses and deferred compensation packages that help them manage their taxes. As if some bloated college president needs the incentive of a  financial bonus in order to make key executive decisions like raising tuition, and outsourcing student services.

Of course the governing boards insist they have to pay ridiculous salaries to attract top talent. What a load of horse manure.  You don't need to pay $4.6 million to find a president wiling to defend race-based admission policies, like Bollinger did at the University of Michigan.

You don't need to pay a guy millions of dollars to wear a bow tie and host elaborate parties for big-shot donors, like Ohio State University did when it had Gordon Gee on the payroll.

Image result for gordon gee ohio state university compensation

Gordon Gee: Goof balls can be hired for a lot less money.
You don't have to pay $3.0 million a year to hire someone who writes mediocre books, which is what University of Pennsylvania pays Amy Gutmann, author of Democratic Education, one of the purest examples of academic bull crap you'll ever want to read. And Vassar could certainly find a dullard president for less than it pays Catharine Hill, whose only solution to the student  loan crisis is better counseling and long-term repayment plans!

You don't need to pay a half million or so to find a president willing to hold photo ops serving pancakes to students while presiding over a university that pays assistant football coaches a million dollars a year--more than the president himself makes--as Louisiana State University did when it hired F. King Alexander.

This is the same Louisiana State University, by the way, that is planning the construction of an $85 million "lazy river" recreational project that includes a "water feature" shaped in the letters of LSU.  Why is LSU doing this?

According to Laurie Braden, LSU's Director of University Recreation,  “I will put it up against any other collegiate recreational facility in the country when we are done because we will be the benchmark for the next level.” The next level of what--the next level of insanity?

I wonder how much Braden makes for dishing out that kind of logic?

University governing boards need to be clued in to this simple fact: They can hire dunderheads for a lot less than a million dollars  a year.  For a lot less money, presidents can be found who will sign contracts with Starbucks  so that university students pay four bucks for a cup of coffer instead of a quarter.  Presidents can be hired who will sign contracts with Barnes & Noble to sell overpriced textbooks to students and give the university a  percentage of the profits. Presidents can be found at reasonable salaries who will collude with banks and credit card companies to encourage students to utilize the services of favored financial institutions.

CEOs can certainly be found at very reasonable salaries who are willing to kiss the butts of student protesters and coddle the kids who take over the presidents' offices.

In short, this nation could run a crappy higher education system like the one we have for a lot less money.

LSU President F. King Alexander: Would you like pancakes with your fee bill?
Photo credit: Baton Rouge Advocate and Hilary Scheinuk