Friday, 22 July 2005

Tastes great, less reading

Today’s Clarion-Ledger does some hard-hitting reporting on the responses of the state’s 3 I-A schools to an NCAA mandate requiring them to trim their football media guides down to a measly 208 pages.

Friday, 13 May 2005

Shelby Thames making his own press

If you’re a college president who doesn’t like your public image, there’s always the solution of getting your PR flacks to come up with a 32-page puff piece about your “leadership” at taxpayer expense. Download it here in all its glory.

Monday, 18 April 2005


You know, when the folks down at Southern started talking about becoming more competitive with SEC schools on the recruiting trail, I didn’t realize they also wanted to compete with Ole Miss and State by outdoing them in recruiting thugs (þ: Jeff Quinton, via email):

Southern Miss president Shelby Thames sat down with the man who plead guilty to his role in the beating death of a high school student. The talk went so well, Southern Miss will offer the convict a football scholarship and a “second chance”.

There are more details here on the story of Marcus Raines. It isn’t exactly pretty.

You know, the Thamester isn’t exactly in the world’s most secure position to begin with, and you have to wonder what he’s is thinking. Particularly when you realize that up the road at Ole Miss, Coach O (from whose backyard this prospect is coming from) wouldn’t touch this kid with a ten-foot pole, and it’s not like Orgeron has been shy about pushing the reset button for problem children like Jamal Pittman. This decision just screams “bad news waiting to happen.”

On the other hand, I suppose I am marginally sympathetic to giving kids who do really stupid things a second chance, although it seems to me that if the kid really wants to redeem himself he ought to be content to go play for free at a Division III school.

Wednesday, 8 December 2004

Double not-so-secret probation

The fun in Hattiesburg never ends; the Hattiesburg American reports that Southern Miss was put on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, its accreditation body (and the accreditor for most of the colleges and universities in the southeastern United States, including Millsaps). The issues leading to the decision include problems with the “assessment of institutional effectiveness, assessment of distance-learning effectiveness and strategic planning in academic units..”

In other SACS news, Auburn’s probation was lifted ($) on Tuesday.

Thursday, 6 May 2004

Not my president (but for the grace of God)

Stephen Karlson has the latest missive from Shelby Thames to his faculty, staff, and students at Southern Miss. With any luck, maybe the four new members of the IHL board will decide this stooge is far more hassle than he’s worth.

Friday, 30 April 2004

USM: No, really, WTF?

Well, the settlement between Thames and Glamser and Stringer is out (full text here) and I find it completely baffling, and borderline inexplicable. HNN’s update from yesterday seemed to anticipate—as most would have, given Thames’ pathetic performance at the hearing on Wednesday—a settlement much more favorable to Glamser and Stringer.

Update: More from Robert Campbell. Time to drop the hammer on that letter to USM withdrawing my application for employment…

Thursday, 29 April 2004


Well, this is about the oddest thing possible to have expected to come out of the brou-ha-ha down at Southern Miss: USM President Shelby Thames and fired professors Frank Glamser and Gary Stringer reached a settlement after yesterday’s hearing in Hattiesburg. Extra bonus: good ole Shelby also spies on his employees’ email.

And, I’d like to declare advantage on this tidbit:

Testimony showed Stringer said he was chairman of the English department, a claim he later refuted.

Good money says the settlement is to ensure that Thames doesn’t get his derierre sued off, and that both professors will be reinstated, but we’ll see when we see…

Sunday, 28 March 2004

USM Update

Sunday’s Clarion-Ledger has three articles on the ongoing Southern Miss saga:

  • USM director of resource and risk management Jack Hanbury gives slightly more detail on the background of the investigation of suspended professors Glamser and Stringer; key quote:
    Hanbury said Thames asked him to investigate the professors only after Hanbury received information that indicated “very serious misconduct.”

    The information came from Kentucky and arrived after the issue went public, Thames has said.

  • USM’s Angie Dvorak sits down with the Clarion-Ledger to clarify her curriculum vitae.
  • Ole Miss journalism professor Joe Atkins has an op-ed on the regional antipathy to unions that ties in Thames’ bogus allegation that the AAUP is a labor union.

In other USM news, the school hired disgraced former Iowa State coach Larry Eustachy as its new basketball coach on Thursday, replacing fired coach James Green.

More updates at Liberty & Power and the Fire Shelby Thames! website.

Thursday, 18 March 2004

College board discusses “potential litigation” involving USM

The Clarion-Ledger reports that the IHL board is meeting behind closed doors today, one day after IHL university presidents met in a closed-door session with USM president Shelby Thames:

Citing “potential litigation at USM,” Mississippi College Board members today went into closed-door session at about 8:50 a.m. as dozens of faculty and students from the University of Southern Mississippi campus milled about the board’s offices off Ridgewood Road.

Both supporters and detractors of USM President Shelby Thames made the trip to Jackson as the board that oversees the state’s universities discussed Thames’ decision to oust tenured professors Frank Glamser and Gary Stringer and the resulting campus uproar.

More from Ralph Luker, who continues his browbeating of OxBlogger David Adesnik (whose ignorance of Mississippi geography is forgiveable, coming from someone who’s studying in the fens of East Anglia on the banks of the River Cam*) for his inattention to matters that might be of concern of a future Ph.D., even one coming from such high stations as Yale and Oxford and who might not deign to accept a job in the primitive backcountry that is 21st century Mississippi.

More USM

Scott has a roundup of Tuesday’s developments at his blog, including an extended discussion of the C.V. of Angie Dvorak, one of the peripheral issues in the situation.

Also of note: Clarion-Ledger columnist Eric Stringfellow thinks Shelby Thames is in over his head as USM president, and the Hattiesburg American wants an open hearing for Glamser and Stringer, rather than the closed hearing their attorney has requested.

Monday, 15 March 2004

USM Day 7: Scott has the goods

I’m enjoying massive shoulder pain today, so blogging isn’t exactly at the top of my list of priorities. Thankfully, Scott has the rundown of events as of this morning.

Saturday, 13 March 2004

USM Day 6: Go read Cliopatria

Ralph Luker has the latest, saving me the effort of having to sum it up myself.

However, there are some bits Luker overlooked: Thames is now going after the Mississippi chapter of ACLU for its decision to provide counsel to aid the appeals of Glamser and Stringer, and the USM faculty senate will consider a resolution calling on Thames to resign at its next meeting.

Friday, 12 March 2004

USM Day 5: The conspiracy theory emerges

Scott of I Know What I Know has an email that gives one perspective on the “big picture” of what’s going on at Southern Miss:

Word on the street is that the attempt to decimate liberal arts at USM is very calculated and is indeed one of the reasons Thames was given the job. IHL had a very tangible agenda for putting him in there against protests from the faculty. They were operating under pressure from “the business community,” or a handful of powerful people who have the goal of reducing education spending in the state by cutting duplicate programs from the various universities. They consider strong graduate programs in liberal arts at more than one university in the state to be wasteful duplication.

First, the obligatory disclaimer: I’m strongly in favor of rationalization and consolidation in Mississippi higher education. This state doesn’t need 8½* public universities, especially when you consider that half of them were created as a result of racial and gender segregation in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Nor does it really need half of its universities to be classified as doctoral institutions by the Carnegie Foundation.

That being said, while I favor better allocation of the limited resources the state can bring to bear on postsecondary education, I don’t think an overall cut in the IHL budget would be productive. And, were I to start cutting at individual institutions, it wouldn’t be at USM—rather, I’d focus on the four institutions (ASU, DSU, MUW, and MVSU) with a combined enrollment smaller than the individual enrollments of Mississippi State, USM, and Ole Miss. This state runs two sets of four-year institutions (DSU-MVSU and MUW-MSU) that are geographically closer than the two campuses of USM. While there are sound political reasons for this arrangement, there are no good pedagogical or financial justifications for this duplication of effort.

Turning back to the “conspiracy theory” explanation: in general, I am disinclined to believe grand, overarching explanations for human behavior. The more plausible explanation, from what I can piece together from this account, is that the professors involved engaged in some sort of (potentially illegal) misrepresentation† in their correspondence with the University of Kentucky to further their investigation of Angie Dvorak, and Thames decided—since he didn’t particularly like professors Glasmer and Stringer in the first place—to use evidence of that misrepresentation to force them out. This theory has the benefit of generally fitting the observed facts, although it is undoubtably wrong on some of the particulars, and is generally speculative in nature.

Thursday, 11 March 2004

USM Day 4: From bad to worse

Events are now on an inevitable collision course down in Hattiesburg. Today’s developments:

  • The Hattiesburg American interviews University of Southern Mississippi president Shelby Thames. Thames did not back off his assertions that the AAUP was a union or his criticism of history professor Doug Chambers for allegedly cancelling class in response to Thames’ actions.
  • Thames also went after the president of the USM faculty senate today, accusing him of hypocrisy.
  • Thames suggests that criminal charges may be in the offing against fired professors Glasmer and Stringer. The professors deny they engaged in any illegal or unethical conduct.
  • 69% of USM faculty voted on the no confidence motion; 64% of the entire faculty (including those who didn’t vote) voted in favor of the no confidence motion.
  • USM provost Tim Hudson says he’s not stepping down, despite disagreeing with Thames’ actions in the case.
  • Thames will not resign in the face of the overwhelming no confidence vote.

Wednesday, 10 March 2004

USM Day 3: Faculty tell Thames to shove off

I Know What I Know and the Hattiesburg American are both reporting that the faculty of the University of South Mississippi voted overwhelmingly in favor of a no confidence motion against USM president Shelby Thames, and voted overwhelmingly in favor of reinstating ousted professors Frank Glamser and Gary Stringer.

Tuesday, 9 March 2004

USM: Thames blames the AAUP

USM president Shelby Thames is now blaming the whole mess on the American Association of University Professors, a group whose combined national membership isn’t that much bigger than his campus’ student enrollment.

Ah, well, it could have been worse; he could have blamed outside agitators and sicced the Sovereignty Commission on them.

USM: Thames fisks self

Forgive me for saying it, but the latest news from Hattiesburg seems just a wee bit odd:

University of Southern Mississippi President Shelby Thames said Tuesday he is considering whether or not to allow two dismissed professors back into the classroom to serve out the semester.

If he makes the decision, the reprieve would only be temporary. Thames said he would initiate termination proceedings at the end of the semester against Gary Stringer and Frank Glamser, two outspoken critics of his administration and leadership.

Thames, mind you, is the same guy who on Friday considered Stringer and Glamser such a threat to the university that he had the university’s custodial staff cart off stuff from their offices and change the locks while he was meeting with them. My bogosity meter is rapidly approaching 11 here, folks.

Thames’ meeting with USM students today didn’t exactly go well, either, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

More on this topic here; this is my entry in today’s OTB Traffic Jam.

USM Day 2

Stephen Karlson and Eugene Volokh have followups on their posts from yesterday on the ongoing kerfuffle at Southern Miss. Quoth Volokh on the importance of the case:

[T]he faculty—as joint governors of the school—must have the right to criticize the administration, which must of course include the right to investigate alleged resume fraud by the University’s vice president of research. If the University is right that the faculty members whom it’s trying to fire engaged in defamation (i.e., were themselves lying) or real misuse of university facilities, then its actions might well be proper. But if the University is just trying to silence faculty members whose criticisms it sees as disruptive, that’s very dangerous indeed. Shared governance, whether in Washington, D.C. or in a university, necessarily involves some disruption and tension. Trying to eliminate that disruption and tension is impossible unless one abandons the shared governance project.

Meanwhile, I Know What I Know is still on the case; as Scott notes, The Student Printz is all over this, and it isn’t looking pretty for USM president Shelby F. Thames.

Monday, 8 March 2004

USM fires two tenured faculty members

There’s a big brou-ha-ha down in Hattiesburg at the University of Southern Mississippi: two tenured faculty members are being terminated by the university administration, apparently for speaking out against a university vice-president. More details at Critical Mass, I Know What I Know (just start at the top and keep scrolling down), The Volokh Conspiracy, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and the Clarion-Ledger.

Update: More at Crooked Timber and Opiniatrety, as well as Cliopatria (I take issue with the latter’s characterization of higher education in Mississippi in general, however) and Stephen Karlson.

I promised myself earlier this weekend that I wouldn’t blog about this, because I have a pending application at USM for a tenure-track faculty position, but there’s no way I will accept a job at a university that apparently has no respect for the tenure process.