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VPAA Doug Blandy pulls off daring $1M student credit hour heist

UO VPAA Doug Blandy:

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3/4/2013: Basically it’s another version of Michael Moffit’s CnC scam – but 5x bigger, thanks to the miracle of online education. And while the instructors in those CnC courses kept to pretty much the same curve as the rest of UO, 60% of the students in Doug Blandy’s courses got A’s – more than twice the normal percentage. It’s a long story, sorry:

Arts and Administration, a.k.a. AAD, is a longstanding MA program for arts administrators. Totally legit – but not very lucrative. For years they’ve also offered a few UO undergrad courses – AAD 250, 251, 252:

Starting somewhere around 2006, when Doug Blandy took over as AAD Director, the program started adding many new online versions of these classes, taught with underpaid adjuncts.

Let’s do some math: For 2011-12 they taught about 2100 students, 4 credits each. Under the Shelton/Bean budget model, AAA gets ~$112 per credit, maybe a bit more given all the “self-supporting” online and summer courses. Let’s call it $1,200,000 or so.  Gotta pay the adjuncts though. For the first one I checked, pay was $15,000, for 0.49 FTE. Slick – no benefits to worry about. Assume that’s for 4 courses, so labor costs are about $4000 a course. 44 courses or so a year, that’s $200,000 for labor, tops. So it looks like AAA and Blandy’s AAD program have been pulling down close to $1,000,000 a year, net, from this scheme.

But why would our undergrads go for these AAD courses? Wouldn’t they take art appreciation courses in the Art History department, from a professor with a respected research program, like, say, this one, or this one, or this one?

Well, no. The AAD courses satisfy both Arts and Letters *and* multicultural requirements. The legendary twofer. And even better, you can do the AAD courses online and get a friend to take the exams for you. And regular Art History courses are hard. The average grade is 2.9. Less than a 3% chance of an A+.

But in the AAD courses, as of Fall 2011, the average undergraduate grade was 3.4. This is almost the highest for any UO department, outside the Education school and Military Science. 19% of students got an A+.  60% of the students got an A:

Last year, when Russ Tomlin’s job opened up, the faculty wanted Barbara Altmann. Instead Interim Provost Lorraine Davis and Interim President Bob Berdahl handed it off Doug Blandy.

Yes, the man behind this online grade inflation scheme is now UO’s Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. Strange – but quite rewarding for Mr. Blandy, whose pay has gone from $78K in 2008 to $180K last year:

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