Naval Academy professor: A veneer of selectivity - College, Inc. - The Washington Pos

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by mainernavymom, Dec 31, 2011.

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  1. mainernavymom

    mainernavymom Member

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  2. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    An interesting read that seems to take a few facts and spin them masterfully, as only an English prof and trained wordsmith might do so, to manufacture and provoke a predictably Washington Post POV. For sure, Professor Fleming's epistle merits a careful examination and consideration by many who care and are charged with the responsibilities of USNA. That's for a more thoughtful analysis and offering. But allow a few random, early thoughts.

    1. It's ironic that Fleming avoids his own responsibilities and scholarship as we pay him to write and rant about this stuff, and is protected by his tenure awarded to protect his academic freedom. While much of his stuff is interesting, insightful, and inciting, it is not scholarship nor even academic.

    2. Were he up for tenure now at USNA or any secular institution beyond the most mediocre, devoting himself to production of stuff like this, he'd flunk, be given his walking papers.

    3. Thomas Sowell illuminates professors like Fleming, noting in his book "Intellectuals in Society" (now wouldn't that be a worthy subject for a tenured English professor?) that by definition, professors are determined to make their commeness uncommon.

    4. No matter Fleming's motivation or his purpose in all of this, I have to hope that his approach to correcting the wrongs, many of which would seem to be genuine twists, exaggeration, functional fabrications, I remain unconvinced of his theme that USNA is anything less than highly selective. Unlike other institutions where the application process is short, sweet, and relatively simple and easy, at SAs it is the essence of the selection process and the reason most remain unfinished. It's too demanding, it's too revealing, it's too "costly" even though it's another of those mythological "free" benefits of a SA education.

    5. To the contrary, I will venture again that without a doubt, the application process for USNA vs. other highly selective institutions would result in far more Navy students graduating from Harvard than Harvard students getting commissioned via USNA, if these student bodies were to be magically swapped. This is the "no brainer" of all-time. And after all, isn't that the ultimate definition of "selectivity."

    6. More conversely, were Prof. Fleming's true colors and commitment to his institution known and he were a candidate? He'd not make it out of a minimally probing BGO operation.

    7. Anger and frustration rather than a burning desire to improve his employer seem to motivate him. If it's loyalty, it takes rather odd formation.

    8. If ever there was a sequel to the "Caine Mutiny" this might be a candidate. (Or is that applicant? Or both? Or neither?)

    The real challenge here is determining who is the Captain Queeg character trying to convey the truths of the Naval Academy and all the while being misunderstood by his colleagues, students, and shipmates.

    Queeg mighta been a captain of a minesweeper, but even he didn't have tenure.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011
  3. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    Shoot the messenger instead of addressing the issue. Prof Fleming isn't the problem.

    The USNA (and other SAs) are unfortunately required to prioritize diversity and athletics over academic success. The decrease in the overall SAT scores of the incoming mids/cadets should not be surprising when "other" priorities are more important. I'm sure we'll hear (again) about how these lower academic achieving mids bring an intangible leadership quality that more than compensates for their lack luster SAT/GPA accomplishments. Or of course how unfair standardized testing is and how it fails to adequately evaluate potential. Either way, if the SAs wanted to admit ONLY the best of the best (as measured by "normal" college academic admissions standards) I'm sure they could easily accomplish this from their yearly applicant pool. Unfortunately (IMPO) finding the smartest AND the best leaders is not their TOP priority and subsequently you see the SAs needing to artificially inflate their selectivity numbers to hide this fact and to appear more selective than they actually are.
     
  4. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Didn't take long for the "anti Professor Fleming" ad hominem attack to appear instead of examining the actual factual data he presented (after having to file a FOIA request to get it).

    :thumb:
     
  5. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    No, you've misread or I've not expanded sufficiently. As noted, there are no doubt truths, perhaps many herein. But anyone thinking I'm a mindless, if gorgeous cheerleader for USNA ... or Fleming ... need to talk to the mods who regularly proclaim me as the bad guy for pointing out the obvious.

    But this messenger merits being shot. He never learned greater lessons of life beyond being allowed to write what he will to whomever he wishes whenever he wants.

    Ah, were he the scholar he dreamed once of being. Were he contributing to his alleged profession as diligently as he digs his dirt. Instead, it seems he dreams of becoming the dean of admissions.

    And undoubtedly positive change might come of his ferreting efforts. And that will be, well, positive.

    Sadly, he's never grasped the greater lessons critical to the mission and lives of his underlings. But as you'd be and have been quick to remind, he's doubly protected by his tenure and the whistle-blowers shield. Good for him.

    The truth, as always is somewhere between his spin and the USNA's. He has the liberty of navel gazing, picking lint from his belly-button, while his superiors have none of that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2011
  6. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    Who cares? IMPO - most of the posters on this board don't care about Prof Fleming or WHY he does anything that he does. The question is whether he is accurately reporting what is occurring at the USNA.

    Exactly right....regardless of whether he is navel gazing, picking lint from his belly-button, while his superiors have none of that. I'm sure his superiors have MORE than adequate means to get their message out to the public....and they won't need the FOIA to supply statistics to validate that message.
     
  7. time2

    time2 Member

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  8. Memphis9489

    Memphis9489 Parent

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    Trying to be an institution of higher learning and, at the same time, trying to compete at the Division I level in athletics is always going to be a conflict.

    Take a school like Vanderbilt. It competes in the SEC, arguably the most competitive conference in all of college sports. At the same time, Vanderbilt is highly selective with extremely high academic standards.

    Do not fool yourself - Vanderbilt makes HUGE academic concessions when admitting athletes, most of whom wouldn't be considered for 2-seconds if not for their athletic ability.
     
  9. samsung

    samsung Member

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    OK, so is it safe to say that

    the figure of 1500 out of 1900 triple Qd candidates WITH a nom were accepted as is stated in the article?
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  10. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    Indeed, but the Admissions Committee at the USNA has a second, even more difficult task -- admitting a class that will produce officers in a racial/ethnic proportion roughly mirroring that of the enlisted force. That mandate comes from the Secretary of the Navy, and from Congress, from approx. Oct. of 2009, and is I am sure, something the adcoms are still trying to work with.

    Student
    Athlete
    Leader

    + DI competitive
    + Diversity

    That's a lot to balance with a total student population of 4,400 or so. Vanderbilt has over 6,800 students, so approx. 800-1000 athletes are a smaller proportion of its student population than at the Academy. Notre Dame (8,400), Stanford (6,900), and Duke (6,500) are all similarly larger in size, and therefore the challenge for them is less daunting.

    I have always been amazed that the Academies can field as many truly competitive DI teams as they do.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  11. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    And they have to do all that while meeting certain geographic diversity criteria as well.
     
  12. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    The breakout is found here: http://www.hometownannapolis.com/photos/110130usnaadmissions2.pdf

    You will see checking the detail for the Class of 2014 that the % offered, out of the 3Q+Nom cohort, ranges from about 50% for Caucasion Male or Female, to about 60% for Asian, about 75% for Hispanic, and about 90% for African American.

    The totals for Class of 2014 are, from the same chart (you have to add them up yourself), 1,464 offered out of 2,587 3Q+Nom, or 56.6%
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  13. aglages

    aglages Parent

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    I absolutely believe this to be true. Fortunately Vanderbilt does not need to be overly concerned with whether these recruited athletes graduate OR whether they will make great leaders. Vanderbilt is making a business decision; free Tuition plus R&B in exchange for millions in sports revenues and recruiting PR. After four years (or less) Vanderbilt can forget about what happens to these student/athletes. The SAs are making political decisions with applicants that will eventually be responsible for other peoples lives. BIG difference.

    Whether you think the USNA is doing a good job with these decisions or not, it is (IMHO) difficult to justify the USNA's methods by comparing them to Vanderbilt's.
     
  14. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    It may also be important to remind everyone that Vandy is a private school, and don't received 100% funding from the federal government like a service academy does.

    Any service academy should be above board with the information it provides to the tax paying Americans that fund its existence.

    I've long thought the federal government in general, and the military specifically over classifies information, white washes papers or commentary with FOUO and grants far too many clearances, but I will save that for another day.
     
  15. BobBigBoy

    BobBigBoy Member

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    Why is is necessary to have sports at the academies? In reading several threads, it seems most are indignant about their existence and the participants are dumbing down the classes. Is it because of the free advertising sports brings or because it is a good way to attract the minorities that congress mandates? I am confused...wouldn't it be better for all just to eliminate NCAA athletics or at the very least compete at a D3 or NAIA level?
     
  16. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Some service academies do compete at a D3 level. :wink:
     
  17. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    Here are some of the main arguments for maintaining D1 football and basketball. I'm not saying I agree with any or all, just that these are commonly expressed rationales.

    (1) D1 football and, to a lesser extent, basketball largely support all of the other men's and women's varsity athletic programs. USNA, USMA, and USAFA are much larger than USCGA and USMMA and have more varsity programs, so more funding is needed.

    (2) In that vein, sports are integral to the SAs and thus it's important to have the programs at the highest level possible.

    (3) Football is a huge overall recruiting tool. It helps introduce young people throughout the country to the "major" SAs.

    (4) All 3 schools (especially USNA and USMA because they were around in the 1940s) have a great, historical tradition of D1 football that's important to maintain.

    I'm sure there are other arguments as well. While D1 football (more than basketball simply due to numbers) does help bring in some minorities, I've never heard this as a justification for staying in D1. And, just to clarify, it's SecNav/CNO, not Congress, that has "mandated" increased diversity so that the SAs and the officer corps in general more closely reflects the ethnic and racial diversity of the enlisted ranks.

    And, of course, there are arguments on the other side that these are taxpayer funded schools, that they exist to produce military officers, not football players, etc.
     
  18. Whistle Pig

    Whistle Pig Banned

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    Bob's obviously never been to an Army-Navy game.:eek::shake:

    And the notion that Navy football pays for itself let alone other sports activities is pure nonsense. This poster's obviously had no exposure to the real financials of Div I athletics and what is necessary to show a profit. And it can't be done with a stadium the size of Navy's, rarely ever filled, no sky boxes or seat licenses, tickets at a bargain price and most available w/o any philanthropy required nor with a schedule that plays such monster programs as Delaware, SMU, Western Michigan, Duke, Wake Forest (4,000 students), Tulsa (3,000 students) and on and on.

    Remember, too ... a monster hidden cost here that is NOT accounted for in looking at any figures. NAPS. A HUGE expenditure that is primarily a holding pen for athletes. Or even prorate it, if one chooses to argue "others are there too." Or let's build in the costs of raising private funds. Refurbishing and maintaining the stadium. Alumni Hall costs. And on and on. By the way ... speaking of hidden costs, does football "pay for" the athletes it recruits or account for them? I'd bet not. Another monster hidden cost that is required at other Div I schools. Let's get close to being real, and suggesting that Navy football and basketball make money. That is preposterous.

    Further, suggesting that USNA could not recruit an equal or better quality of class absent the PR of football? Pure speculation that could be argued forever w/o any evidence of such. In fact, remove the athletes from the pool and I'd speculate the total academic measures would rise, not decline.

    But in any case, Navy football is a monumental money loser. And in noting this reality, I'm NOT anti-Navy football or Div I athletics. To the contrary, castrating inter-collegiate athletics from USNA would sterilize and lessen the lessons, imo. Transforming it to Div III like the Coasties and Merchant Marines would be a disaster. This is one of those things that there simply is no going back.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2012
  19. usna1985

    usna1985 USNA Alumnus

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    I don't claim to be an expert in D1 sports financials nor have I evaluated the accuracy of the statement that USNA football makes money; it is, however, a statement that is frequently made by those who are in a position to know. They may be wrong or I may have misconstrued what was said.

    I would point out that the USNA stadium now seats 40k+ and does have suites and skyboxes -- maybe not the USC or FSU variety, but they do exist. Most home games are sell-outs or nearly so. They play ND and Army every year in huge stadiums that sell out. They have corporate sponsors. And almost all USNA games are televised. I've heard (cannot verify) that each of those games brings in about $500k in revenue. Of course A/N and ND bring in more from TV revenues. Private philanthropy allowed, among other things, a major stadium expansion and renovation several years ago.

    This is not to say that the SAs are in the same position as non-SAs when it comes to D1 football. To make that comparison is comparing apples and Saint Bernards.:smile:
     
  20. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    I found the following college athletic department revenue database. Unfortunately after looking it over for about ten minutes, I cannot get a sense of its accuracy. Oh, and Navy data is missing but Army is included.
    http://b2.caspio.com/dp.asp?appSess...ic_department_operating_ex&cbCurrentPageSize=
     
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