Grapes from Thorns

Location: Cincinnati, Ohio

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kasich at UC story

By  Joe Vardon
The Columbus Dispatch Sunday December 15, 2013 6:11 AM
CINCINNATI — Being a material girl (or guy) is “empty,” fame is fleeting and power disappears, Gov. John Kasich told the University of Cincinnati’s fall graduating class yesterday.
“When someone says how much money you make, how important is your job title, you can answer that question,” Kasich said in his commencement speech to about 750 students participating in the ceremony and their families and friends who filled Fifth Third Arena on campus.
The university awarded more than 2,000 degrees this weekend.
“Deep down inside, you know that you are making a difference in someone else’s life,” Kasich continued. “That you’re lifting somebody else and sometimes putting yourself second in the process. You’ll never fail if you follow that advice.”
Kasich, a 1974 graduate of Ohio State University, matched some themes in his speech to the Cincinnati graduates with those he used in his June commencement address to Chardon High School graduates, including the importance of recognizing one’s personal gifts and using them to help others.
Yesterday, Kasich spoke of Albert Lexie, a Pittsburgh-area man with a developmental disability who shines shoes at the local children’s hospital, who has donated more than $200,000 in tips to families struggling to cover medical bills. Kasich also talked about 14-year-old Savannah Day, a Virginia girl who was scheduled to undergo brain surgery at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital last week and had solicited donation of 4,000 toys to give to other hospital patients.
“Love somebody, encourage somebody; it will not be lost,” Kasich said. “It will follow you through eternity.”
Before the governor’s speech, Cincinnati President Santa J. Ono gave Kasich the president’s award for excellence and made some statements the Republican will probably use next year when he seeks re-election.
As he presented the award, Ono said Kasich has “pursued the creation of a jobs-friendly climate, to put more Ohioans into the workforce,” has “closed an $8 billion budget deficit without a (state) tax increase” and “crafted a new higher-education funding formula that is a model for the nation and an envy of my colleagues as presidents across the country.”
While the state has added nearly 143,000 jobs since Kasich took office in January 2011, the state’s labor force — those working as well as the unemployed who are looking for work — has dropped by 93,000 in the same period.
John T. McNay, a registered Democrat and university professor, said in an op-ed column published on Friday on a TV station’s website that Kasich’s appearance “has the trappings of a campaign appearance, which is inappropriate for a graduation.”
McNay also criticized the same Kasich higher-education policy Ono later praised — to more closely align state funding to graduation rates — as having been crafted without consulting faculty members, and a policy that could cut funding to institutions that “arguably need the most financial assistance.”

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John Condo (hiltcondo1)
My niece was there yesterday who a big republican and she said what a big disapointment his speech was
2013-12-15 06:53:41.0
John McNay (JohnMcNay)
President Ono says he is a Democrat, too. This is an issue of the poor judgment involved in providing a current candidate for governor a campaign venue that ought not be politicized.
2013-12-15 16:12:55.0

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Kasich wrong choice for UC Commencement

WCPO Guest Editorial, Dec. 13, 2013

By John T. McNay
Ohio Gov. John Kasich will address University of Cincinnati graduates at the annual December Commencement Dec. 14. In addition to speaking to the newly-minted Bearcat alumni, he will receive from President Santa Ono the “Presidential Award for Excellence.”
This has caught many people, including faculty, by surprise - not only because this has the trappings of a campaign appearance, which is inappropriate for a graduation, but also because Kasich’s record on a whole range of issues is not one that really accords with the values of the university. It would have been helpful had faculty been involved in this decision and, hopefully, that will be true in the future.
What “excellence” can we  cite for Kasich?
• Problems surrounding the issues of diversity have surfaced at the university recently and the Ono administration has promised more progress on that front. That makes Gov. Kasich a peculiar choice. From the early days of his administration, the governor has maintained a dismissive attitude toward diversity issues. Gov. Kasich’s nearly all-white cabinet does most definitely not look like Ohio and he has clashed with African-American lawmakers on the issue. Those lawmakers even talked of bringing legal action over the absence of diversity in his administration. When state Sen. Nina Turner, an African-American, pursued the governor on the issue, he responded: “I don’t need your people.” Afterwards, he clarified that he meant “Democrats.”
• The governor’s centerpiece legislation was Senate Bill 5, which was designed to undermine collective bargaining for public employees statewide. That included almost all of the thousands of employees at the University of Cincinnati, including secretaries, food service,  maintenance, and police. And, for the faculty, there was a special provision that would have effectively eliminated the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) at UC. Fortunately, Ohioans heavily rejected that attack on the UC community and collective bargaining by a 62-38 percent margin at the ballot box in 2011.
• Then there was House Bill 194, dubbed by many the “voter suppression act,” which Gov. Kasich signed into law that would have sharply restricted access to the polls in Ohio’s elections. Another successful petition gathering effort was launched and, this time, rather than take a drubbing at the polls, the governor and his party repealed their own bill – a first in Ohio history.
• The news media in Ohio has regularly criticized Gov. Kasich because of his penchant for secrecy in government. Especially noteworthy  is the determined effort to conceal the workings of his controversial JobsOhio program, which has involved the privatization of millions of dollars in public money – transactions not subject to open records laws.
• And then there is public education that has been pummeled since the governor took office. Gov. Kasich’s first two-year pass-the-buck-budget cut funding to K-12 public schools by $1.8 billion. Local taxpayers have had to pick up the tab by passing an estimated $1.1 billion in school levies. At the same time, there have been dramatic increases in state funding for corporate charter schools – most of which underperform their public school counterparts. Some would say that such Draconian cuts to public education (not to mention municipalities which also took big hits) were necessary because the recession created the state deficit. But, in fact, a big driver of the deficit was the sharp reduction in the state income tax - a big windfall for the wealthy - as well as the elimination of the corporate income tax, which were both “reforms” the governor sought. Meanwhile, Ohio’s unemployment rate is higher now than a year ago.
• While the cuts to higher education statewide have been slightly less dramatic, the governor announced a new funding plan early this year for the state’s public colleges and universities. It requires more of the funding to be based on outcomes, that is, course completions and graduations. No one, except the students, has more invested in student success than the faculty.
Unfortunately, this plan gives even more money to colleges and universities already doing well, while cutting funding to institutions with lower admission standards or open admission, who arguably need the most financial assistance.  This may create pressure to simply pass students in order to get the funding.
One of the key problems here is that the faculty – the people actually working with students in classrooms and laboratories - were not consulted in creating this plan. How do you expect something to work if you never talk to the people actually doing the work?
Now that the University of Cincinnati has provided Gov. Kasich with this prestigious award, we hope that the governor will take a new direction in the remainder of his term and begin to recognize the faculty at our colleges and universities as partners in enhancing higher education in Ohio. Ohio’s students, faculty, and institutions of higher education deserve that kind of respect and collaboration.
And to our wonderful graduating students, your faculty are very proud of you. Congratulations on your achievement and “Go Bearcats!”
McNay is in his 13th year at UC Blue Ash, specializing in the History of American Foreign Relations. He is the president of the Ohio Conference, American Association of University Professors, which represents 6,000 faculty members in a dozen chapters in Ohio, including UC’s. The views here are his and not necessarily those of the AAUP.