Friday, August 17, 2007

Undergraduate Rankism

The US News and World Report college issue came out just in time to put those new freshmen into a state of apprehension over choosing the wrong school as they head off to campus at the end of this month. Thanks guys.

Anyway, I took the time this morning (while putting off editing some contract language) to sift through the data and give you a ranking of major schools in the West (Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Colorado, & Utah). I haven't ranked every school and if I didn't get to yours, tough.
Anyway, I have created a ranking based on the nat'l ranking and where school tied, I used selectivity (on the assumption that the more selective a school is the larger the applicant pool it has and therefore the market has endorsed it) and endowment size (as a larger endowment = more resources per student and a better ability to invest in the core mission of the school.) So, without further adieu, here are the rankings:

Group 1 - Nat'l Universities or the school that have a national research impact and produce Doctoral degrees. The only surprises in this group was the size of UW's endowment, over a billion, wow; and that Portland State is the biggest school in Oregon surpassing both U of O and OSU.

Forge Rankings School Enrollment Selectivity Endowment (M) Student Body Endowment/Student Ranking
1 U of Wash. More Selective $ 1,786.594 27,836 $ 64,182.86 Nat'l - #42
2 BYU More Selective - 30,480 Nat'l - #79
3 U of Colorado More Selective $ 290.700 26,165 $ 11,110.26 Nat'l - #79
4 U of Ore. Selective $ 454.873 16,529 $ 27,519.69 Nat'l - #112
5 Wash. State More Selective $ 351.162 19,554 $ 17,958.58 Nat'l - #118
6 Colorado State Selective $ 161.316 21,283 $ 7,579.57 Nat'l - #124
7 Ore. State Selective $ 440.042 15,829 $ 27,799.73 Nat'l - 3rd Tier
8 U of Utah More Selective $ 425.319 22,155 $ 19,197.43 Nat'l - 3rd Tier
9 U of Idaho Selective $ 177.774 9,127 $ 19,477.81 Nat'l - 3rd Tier
10 U of Hawaii Selective $ 142.000 14,037 $ 10,116.12 Nat'l - 3rd Tier
11 Utah State More Selective $ 110.072 12,779 $ 8,613.51 Nat'l - 3rd Tier
12 Montana State Selective $ 72.893 10,832 $ 6,729.41 Nat'l - 3rd Tier
13 U of Montana Selective $ 17.134 10,357 $ 1,654.34 Nat'l - 3rd Tier
14 Idaho State Selective $ 28.306 10,640 $ 2,660.34 Nat'l - 4th Tier
15 Portland State Less Selective $ 34.508 17,998 $ 1,917.32 Nat'l - 4th Tier

The next group is of Master's School, these are school that provide, for the most part, education that is regionally based with limited research and doctoral programs. (yes, despite BSU's prowess on the fball field, this is still where it lives). The surprise here, who knew BSU would be tied with EWU, probably not all those Broncos down in Boise. Also, I thought U of Alaska would be higher.

Forge Rankings School Enrollment Selectivity Endowment (M) Student Body Endowment/Student Ranking
1 Gonzaga U. More Selective $ 128.881 4,275 $ 30,147.60 Master's West - #3
2 U of Portland More Selective $ 81.212 2,907 $ 27,936.70 Master's West - #5
3 Seattle U. More Selective $ 182.290 4,160 $ 43,819.71 Master's West - #6
4 Boise State Selective $ 64.763 17,042 $ 3,800.20 Master's West - #43
5 E. Wash. Less Selective $ 6.376 9,838 $ 648.10 Master's West - #43
6 U. Of Alaska Less Selective $ 14.880 16,242 $ 916.14 Master's West - 3rd Tier

Finally, is Whitman, in the lonely liberal arts group. What was surprising here is the size of the endowment for this tiny school, over 200K per student!!! Makes you wonder why they have to charge 40K+ a year?

Forge Rankings School Enrollment Selectivity Endowment (M) Student Body Endowment/Student Ranking
1 Whitman More Selective $ 340.802 1,455 $ 234,228.18 Liberal Arts - #37

BTW - I'm heading off for vacation to see the fam in Pocatello Idaho so I might be posting some pics of our trip or I might not post at all, I guess you have to wait and see. Thanks.

Update to UI-Sandpoint

Well, according to U of I Pres. Tim White, the foundation that the UI is selling it's land to will, after a period of time, gift the land and the buildings back to the UI. However, how long a period of time and exactly why the sell of the land and then re-gifting needs to happen in the first place is still a question mark?

Monday, August 13, 2007

It's a gift, who doesn't like a gift?

I know I'm supposed to be all happy about the recent gift to the U of Idaho by the founder of Coldwater Creek. He has agreed to give the University over 30 million so that they can build a 4 building extension campus is Sandpoint. Sounds great, no?

But this is more than a simple donation. As part of the "gift", the U of Idaho is going to sell over 70 acres it owns near downtown to his non-profit organization. The organization will then "allow" the University to construct it's campus on a portion of the land. As part of the deal, the city of Sandpoint will have to construct a high school on remaining portion of the parcel or it will revert back to University ownership. Sounds good, huh? The University is allowed to expand, full-fill it's mission of educating the state, it brings much needed higher education opportunities to the region, and the city secures core downtown land for a future high school.

But I can't help but be skeptical. I'm not sure why the University had to transfer possession of land in order to build on the land. Why couldn’t the donation merely be stipulated on the construction of the extension campus? Why did the school have to transfer possession of such a potentially valuable strip of property? In 100 years, with as fast as Sandpoint is growing, when the city by the lake will be over 100,000 people, will the "foundation" break the lease with the University and develop on the prime real estate it has acquired? Is this simply a way to set up a nice family trust and avoid tax consequences? What is being done to protect the University in the long term?

Even without the transfer of property, the construction of the school itself benefits the benefactor. He is trying to develop a fortune 500 smack dab in the middle of nowhere. This, no doubt, complicates the already incredibly difficult task of finding smart, educated workers. Even here in Seattle, in the supposed "best educated city" in America, Microsoft and other employers struggle to find educated labor. I can only imagine the difficulty faced by the shortage of skill, educated labor in North Idaho that Coldwater Creek must work with. It is much cheaper, for Coldwater Creek, if it can find a way to educate the labor force it already has rather than try to import them from somewhere else. So, the presence of the school is a direct benefit to his company and his personal fortunes. So why did he need to require the U of I to sell the land to his organization?

I know I should be more trusting. I'm sure that there are no nefarious motives and that this gift was truly that, a gift, for the benefit of the University, the citizens of Sandpoint, and the people of Idaho. But, yet, I'm still skeptical? As proud alumni, I ask why this couldn’t have been done without the school having to give up a valuable asset. Anyone have any answers?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Social Entropy

I still think about them and wonder if they think about me? Do they still remember me, have they found someone to replace me, and if so do they like who they have now better then me? I wonder why I left the relationship in the first place, what was wrong that made me desire to leave; I can’t seem to remember now. What would my life be like if I had stayed in the relationship, would I be happy or still miserable? Was I even miserable? Questions like these, sometimes, enter my mind when I think about former employers.

I was browsing the internet, and for some reason I can’t recall, I started searching the job postings at Eddie Bauer, my first corporate HR gig after college, and noticed that my old job is posted. It made me think of my old co-workers. I wondered if they were still there working on our old eternal projects, or if they had left and how life was like without me. Conceited, I know, to wonder what my impact on their life was, but all too human I suppose.

I also saw that Eddie Bauer has moved to a new location after selling their corporate campus to Microsoft. The new headquarters is in a skyscraper in Bellevue and I got the urge to drop by the new digs. I stopped myself before going though. Would they remember me, could I get someone vogue for me to get past security, would they want to talk to me, would they be angry at me for leaving them, for allowing myself to be lured away by a former director to a new employer. Would I be perceived as the lame former employee who just couldn't move on?

The new Eddie Bauer HQ in downtown Bellevue.

Are old employers like old girlfriends? Each of whom, after breaking apart the relationship, it is impossible to remain friends with? Is it just too hard, is it unnatural, our we just supposed to move on?

It isn’t surprising, at least to me, that I would have similar emotions regarding former employers as to former girlfriends. If you think about work most Americans spend more waking hours with their coworkers than with their spouse/sig. others, they work through problems together, they revel in business victories and march through defeats, and throughout all of this, people can become very close through work.

My last job was with the Medial System division of Philips Electronics and while there I made some good friend with a couple guys. We would go out and have a beers, bitch about our projects and inept management, and talk about our families. We tried to do this a few time after I left, but the periods between outings grew from every couple months to once every six months and now it has been more than six months since I’ve even talked with them. Have we lost touch because we no longer share the common experience of work, is it because I’ve completely left the field of HR and moved into law, or was our relationship simply based on our shared work that it couldn’t survive without the common connection?

Life is supposed to be a continual forward progression, and I suppose, if you let it, it is easy for the currents of time pull you away from former employer, former loves, and people who once, at that moment in life, were essential to who you were. So, I guess I am left with the question of how hard should you try to fight the essential tide of life, how hard do you press to keep in touch with those to whom your common thread has been cut? I suppose, the answer is how much is it worth to you, how valuable are those friends gained through work and will you spend the energy required to fight the basic entropy that seems to be the underlying ingredient of modern social relationships.

Anyway, ramble off.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Color Catastrophe

Well, I haven't been posting for a while because I have been repainting the exterior trim work/molding on our house.

After living in our house for over a year, we just couldn't stomach the dark pink color that the previous owner had loved (in addition to the pink trim, she had painted the interior walls pink and had the kitchen done up in two shades of pink) so we decided to bite the bullet and finish this project before the end of the summer.

My wife, picked out a really cool color palette consisting of three colors; a very light cream blue for the soffits and columns supporting our front stoop, a middle hue gray-blue for the window trim and crown moldings, and then a dark blackish blue for the surface of the stoop steps. The three colors looked very cool on the color swatch thingy and we were very excited to put brush to wood.

So, after spending all last week power washing, sanding, taping and other prep work we got to work painting on Saturday morning. We decided to start with the lightest color and then add the other colors as we worked. After the entire day of painting, we completed the painting all the soffit, columns and some of the moldings on the front of the house by about 9 pm Saturday night. We packed up our gear and went in for the night.

Sunday, we rose early again and headed outside to work. My wife, as I was starting to paint the trim work around the molding asked in a way that could only be a statement rather than a question, "What do you think of the color?"

I took a step back and looked at the house. Agreeing with the doubtful tone of her question I answered, "I don't like it."


While the color combination looked good on the color swatches, it just didn't work with the existing color of our siding or the color of the roof. It was too blue for a color palette that should have stayed in the browns. We stood for a couple minutes looking at the house, moving into the street to get a better vantage point, and then coming back in close to reexamine all the while trying to convince ourselves that the colors would work out.

"I was having doubts yesterday when you started painting the soffits. I should have said something." She finally confided to me.

I agreed but there was nothing that we could do about it. We decided that it was simply best just to start over. So, back to Lowe's we went, to pick new colors that would work better on the house we had rather than some house we wished we had. It took a while, there was a lot of comparing this color to that, of buying quart cans of various colors and trying them on the walls (we should have done the first time) and then finally settling on brown and green palette. However, by the time we started painting again, Sunday afternoon was all but gone. By the end of the weekend we were basically in the same position where we had started on Saturday morning. Two days wasted.

Thus, my plan this week was to paint everyday after work and hopefully I'll have the front done by this weekend and then I can move to the back and sides next week. Unfortunately, it has clouded up and it looks as though it might rain, so painting might be delayed yet again. It seems, as my wife commented this morning, "our house is never going to get painted." I'm starting to share her fear.