Thread regarding DeVry Inc. layoffs

The fall of once good school

I worked for DeVry for nearly 2 decades. I left of my own free will, and was fortunate to be able to do so. I feel for all who are tied to their unhappy employment without resources to quit--I was once one of you, and I know your pain. At the end, in the year of my strongest performance, I was able to quit with no golden parachute, just a clean and clear decision on my part that my employment with DeVry needed to end.

There were many years when I truly believed I was personally (and DeVry was institutionally) helping disenfranchised students. Trying to straddle the technical institute world, while laying claim to University status was a problem. DeVry was costly, and the career successes they claimed on behalf of their students were not demonstrable. Institutionally, it seemed DeVry admitted anything that breathed; there were astronomical attrition rates and consequent student-loan debt that captured the notice of the country (The Harkin report). DeVry failed to make appropriate adjustments to that report. They sneered at it; they believed they were immune from its implications. They continued to report insufficiently-documented employment successes; they continued to charge high tuition; and it wasn't until several cycles of declining enrollments that they began "right-sizing" and considering tuition adjustments. All, too late. The word was out, long out. And DeVry had recanted nothing.

8-week sessions trying to teach history, matters of abstract and critical thinking, literature, philosophy, political science, sociology, and art was woefully insufficient. Yet, some few students genuinely prospered from such inquiries. Most thought these courses utterly irrelevant to the careers they sought. And, writing and humanities courses were always harder than courses merely requiring a report of information or demonstrating a memorized process. Humanities courses require higher-level critical thinking, research, and writing skills--skills in which most of DeVry's students are woefully deficient and are not given time to acquire--for such skills take deep time, not just a couple of quick sessions.

Evaluations, for which students had little to no context for judging, were like a wind sock up, down, everywhere. I was a genius, a bore; the class was marvelous, a waste of time....Students expected to be given every opportunity--translate, do-overs, late work after late work, excuse after excuse, negotiation after negotiation--to eke through--few could pass simply on their own merits. No administrative concession was made to teaching 30-40 online students versus 5 on-site students, where a great deal of hand-holding routinely occurs. Neither class size, nor the pedagogical differences in the online/on-site paradigms mattered, nor did the fact that online students submit evaluations so sparsely, nor did the fact that the evaluation instruments are so flawed. Nothing mattered but the capture of metrics, and metrics ruled. Any time my evaluations dipped below a 3.6, I felt my employment threatened. We were given mixed messages, "Don't worry about evaluations; we don't just look at the numbers." Yet, if you wanted to serve on certain committees, you could only do so if your evaluation score was 3.6 or above. A high-ranking official once told me (in the presence of others) that another high-ranking official had so many applications for promotion, s/he would "only look at those with a 3.6 or above" on their evaluations. So much for not looking at the metrics...

There was no humanity left in DeVry's treatment of students and faculty, most of the latter (certainly those in my acquaintance) worked hard, long, and unflaggingly on behalf of students (and to keep their jobs in an environment in which anyone could be fired at any time regardless of any human concern or even reasoning). And students themselves were exhausted: often working full-time jobs with families—how on earth can they get an education in a couple of hours in their pajamas on a Sunday morning?

At the end, after many rounds of layoffs, changes in managers, more work and time spent than ever (up to 70 hours per week), accessible and active in courses 7 days per week, learning and demonstrating use of every new whimsical technology thrown at me...and none of my efforts ever actually appreciated, no "good job"--not once in my last year.

Between a wholly unappreciative management seeking to weed out its next artificially-determined weakest performers, new technology yet again, and students, often predatory subscribers to a system designed not to educate, but (at least in their minds) to exchange a credential for fee, I'd had enough. In my last year, I published, I went to conferences, I volunteered for everything, served on minor and major initiatives, actually used all of the tech tossed in my path, and taught with integrity, fairness, and some hint of rigor. In my previous cycle, I had exceeded expectations across the board; in the cycle I decided to quit, my most strenuous, I did not wish to endure another IPP, where I suspect no matter what I had done nor how well I had performed would actually matter in that process. If I was in favor, I would be given a "meets," nothing more. If I was out of favor, I have no doubt something trumped up would put me in the "needs-development" or "thank-you-for-your-service" status.

I quit and happily without having to endure the final indignity of an artificial scrutiny by a manager and a system I regarded as palpably limited in scope.

I now work at a traditional school. I am not supervised--I am trusted. My credentials, interview, and experience speak for themselves. My supervisor appreciates me and is glad I’m on board. My students like me and try to accomplish the goals of the course to the best of their abilities. My DeVry past did not present a liability. I was told by my supervisor that she would certainly have hired me for a tenure-track position that had recently been filled, had I sought it--so, neither my age (no spring chicken, me) nor my DeVry past stood in my way.

For those still working: you have my highest regard and my deepest sympathy. I wish you the very best.

Reposted from . Excellent overview of the changes at DeVry over years.

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No, doofus this ad is from a real College! They are using DeVry marketing tactics now.

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97 PERCENT OF GRADS ARE EMPLOYED, CONTINUING THEIR EDUCATION, OR IN INTERNSHIPS OR VOLUNTEER WORK WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF GRADUATION

....sounds like 97% are doing something, the other 3% are deceased (or they'd, no doubt, be included too).

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97 PERCENT OF GRADS ARE EMPLOYED, CONTINUING THEIR EDUCATION, OR IN INTERNSHIPS OR VOLUNTEER WORK WITHIN SIX MONTHS OF GRADUATION

Wait...this wasn’t from DeVry. Someone I know just got this in email from Lafayette College. Sound familiar at all? Look at all the word-weaseling going on.

95 PERCENT OF SENIORS RATE THEIR EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE AS EXCELLENT OR GOOD

Same college. We’re awesome! Or we’re vaguely okay. Most people say that!

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Guess the word got out about high priced mediocrity considering numbers have dropped and managers have no more magic tricks to make this "school" seem like it's doing well. Just another predatory overpriced diploma mill.

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A fundamental flaw in DeVry's approach was to blame the instructors for the lack of student learning, rather than realizing that most students lacked the skills to succeed in higher education, and that the DeVry classes were not structured to help students learn. Thus the company expected instructors to be tutors and instructor time was viewed as a costless asset.

The combination of a lack of student skills, the poor design of classes, and the profit pressure from the management combined to create a true diploma mill. When I taught for DeVry I was asked to "reconsider" grades, asked to change grades, asked to assign scores for work that had not been submitted, asked to allow all students to turn in work late at any time during the class (which makes managing the class impossible), and was reprimanded for student evaluation scores lower than normal. Once I stopped applying any type of real criteria to the student work and simply passed all students through regardless of what they submitted, my evaluation scores went up and management was happy. The students were the ones being cheated but most did not care as all they wanted was the degree, even if it was worthless.

The system in which DeVry functions allows it to be the very definition of a predatory company. Realizing this, the managers took full advantage of the ignorant students and sold them sub-par "classes" and a degree that is viewed with derision by industry. Retention at any cost, be it asking the instructors to tutor students to make up for a lack of basic skills, eliminating academic integrity, or providing poor class design, was paramount.

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