Friday, November 20, 2015

Weirder and Weirder

The UGA whistleblower story gets weirder and weirder, including this most recent addition reported in today's Athens Banner-Herald.

Synopsis: accountant blows whistle on the UGA alumni relations director for all her "travel" which allegedly is charged to the university but is really for her personal use (and gets fired for it). You can read the story linked above for details. Quite a story.

So why do I bring this up here?

Because, my dear, there's data. And best I can tell, few if any news outlets have reported how much travel she actually did.

I dipped into the 2014 salary reports, which I have in Excel format for all UGA employees, to see where Deborah Dietzler, the former alumni person, stands in terms of travel dollars.

Her rank? She's 39th among all employees listed in the database, all 24,524 of them. Keep in mind that last number is inflated as it includes anyone who worked for UGA during that fiscal year, including student workers (work study, TAs, RAs, staff, faculty, admins, etc.). So there are a lot of $0 in this database. A whole lot.

But Dietzler, on top of her listed $123,900.96 salary, received $20,327.98 in travel monies. Sheesh.

I get about a thousand bucks a year for travel.

Who got the most UGA travel money that year? Here are the Top Five:
  1. Scott Jackson, a professor ($48,990)
  2. Caitlin Payne, a research assistant ($40,161)
  3. Michael Geller, professor ($37,416)
  4. William Eiland, a department head ($36,335)
  5. Fei Zhang, public service professional ($36,097).
A lot of the travel monies above are soft money from research or service grants and the like, so let's not get into an apples and oranges thing here compared to my measly travel budget. In other words, I can be bitter, but let's move on.

UGA Students: Countries of Origin

This odd and kinda sad incident earlier this week on the UGA campus about the cops being called on a kid with an Arabic flag got me wondering about where our international students come from. All we have to work with at present are the Fall 2014 data available in the UGA Factbook (2014 version, obviously). Work your way to Page 25 and you'll find a list of countries as well as how many undergrad and grad students come from there, or you can look at the bad screen shot below. Sorry, the Factbook is in stupid PDF format so I can't easily scrape the data at the moment for analysis, such as sort by number of students. We'll have to eyeball it and hope for the rest.

First off, China beats everyone (total of 829 students). Then again, it has a lot more people to work with. After that comes South Korea (total of 378 students), and India (262 students). After those well-peopled countries we downshift to the double digits and places like Canada (82) and Brazil (82), etc.

Yeah yeah, but the stupid scare earlier this week prompted by an overzealous and misinformed UGA administrative assistant had to do with a student with the Saudi Arabian flag. In Fall 2014, at least, I see no students listed from there. Perhaps his roots are there but he's a citizen of another country. Neither is Syria represented. However, given at least five of the terrorists who attacked Paris were from France, we do have 15 students from that country.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book Search

I did a vanity book search via Google today. Ya know, when you search for your own name. In this case, a search for "barry hollander" found lots of interesting and old stuff. Most of it is academic books citing my research, but not all of it. Let's look at the fun stuff.

For example, there's this mediocre short story I wrote years ago for an anthology, or this mention of me having contributed "notable dark work" in the top summary of speculative fiction, or this damn good zombie story I wrote for a top anthology (cover to the left), or (sigh, not proud of this) a story I wrote in a moment of weakness for an erotic fantasy anthology. Got paid for all of them. Money is money.

In all, I sold maybe 50 short stories during my brief fling with fiction. I gave up. Too hard to write that stuff, and way more competitive than academic or journalistic writing, at least in getting acceptances (and a paycheck). Hell, for some of these anthologies they bought 10 or so stories out of 500 submissions, harder odds than getting published in an academic journal. Some magazines and anthologies I was in, they accepted only 1 percent of all submissions. Even JMCQ (the top academic journal in my field) isn't that tough to get in.

Line Edits

I rarely do this, but a story on Grady Newsource (which is a good catch, the local protest about the Syrian refugee thing) caught my eye. Here are my edits on a fairly short story.

Again, good story. I haven't seen it elsewhere, though I may have missed it. But if you're going to write online, you have to do it to correct style.

Monday, November 16, 2015

We're #33

Georgia's football team cracked the coveted "teams also receiving votes" in this week's AP poll. We're 7-3, after all. That's good, right? Let's look at those quality wins.

Opponent Record
South Carolina

Basically, UGA has not beaten a major college team that holds (so far) a winning record. We did beat Southern University, a small school that boasts a 6-4 record. Otherwise we've beaten a 1-9 ULM, a 4-6 Vandy, a 3-7 South Carolina, a 5-5 Missouri, a 4-6 Kentucky, and a 5-5 Auburn.


We've lost to all the teams with winning records (setting aside tiny Southern).

Or do the math this way. Our wins are against teams with a combined 28-42. Our losses are to teams with a combined record of of 24-6. If you set aside the small schools like Southern and ULM, no better.

Again, sigh.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Admitting to Entertainment Programming -- Mode Response

We know from loads of previous research that people answer survey questions differently if asked face-to-face as opposed to the phone or, especially, via the Internet. Let's have some fun and look at a few responses between national samples of the same questions asked F2F vs. over the Web, with the data weighted to account for demographic differences between the two samples.

Yes, I'm thinking of a study along these lines with these data. Consider this me thinking out loud.

Below I'm going to toss a few shows at you, with the F2F and Web percentages. My underlying assumption is people will more readily, in a F2F situation, to say yes to more prestigious answers, like news programming, and be less likely F2F to admit to entertainment programming. Let's see if my theory holds water. Below the table, I discuss briefly.

TV Program
 News Shows

   60 Minutes
   ABC News
   Meet the Press
   NBC News

   The Mentalist
   The Voice
   American Idol
   Big Bang Theory
   Dancing w Stars

These are selected programs, not all of them available, so a more comprehensive analysis of the data might find something different. Still, you kinda get the idea. Look at the news programming. The F2F percentages are uniformly higher than the web-based responses. And now look at the entertainment-based programming. It's generally higher as well. Two exceptions: The Mentalist and Dancing with the Stars.

So all in all, not a lot of support for my thesis. I'd have to generate a more complete list, create an index of each type of television programming, and then see if it held up. But it doesn't look good.

I hate it when data gets in the way of a good theory.

Methodological Stuff

This is from the 2012 ANES, which used random samples of both face-to-face and web-based surveys. You can find the study page here.

Twitter Polls

The people have unanimously spoken. Well, six of them have spoken.

Graduating Black Students

The stories out of Missouri (and Yale, and elsewhere) have raised issues of African Americans and universities. On a data whim, I looked at which schools and colleges at UGA graduate with degrees the greatest percentage of black students. Below, the quick results (hey, it's Friday, it's gonna be quick). First, a methodological note: these are undergraduate bachelors degrees from the Athens campus and excludes Pharmacy, as it doesn't really do a bachelors.

Below, ranked in order of greatest percentage of blacks compared to all students:

  1. Social Work (10.l5%)
  2. Public Health (9.4%)
  3. Ag & Environmental (9.0%)
  4. Family & Consumer (8.7%)
  5. Journalism & Mass Comm (8.1%)
  6. Arts & Sciences (7.9%)
  7. Public & Intl Affairs (6.2%)
  8. Education (5.5%)
  9. Business (5.2%)
  10. Forestry & Natl Resources (3.8%)
  11. Engineering (1.9%)
  12. (tie) Ecology and Environment & Design (0.0%). Congrats.

UGA Public Affairs, "too busy" to comment?

Our own Grady Newsource had a follow-up story about a student kidnapping on campus and student fears about safety in the Tate parking deck. This part caught my eye (video and text of story)
Grady Newsource contacted the UGA Public Affairs office about its security measures, but the office said they were too busy to comment. 
First, it should be "it" was too busy to comment, not "they." Basically the same thing was said on air (though not in the brief video seen on the link above). My first response, which I put in the form of a tweet when I heard the broadcast, was:
And I had a quick response from one of the folks over there asking for details, so I explained what I just saw on air. Unfortunately the bizarre stream on the Grady Newsource site shows not the most recent show but one from earlier in the week. What the hell? Anyway, I can't point to the student journalists's "too busy" comment except in the text of the story, and even more unfortunate I can't point to the post-show critique in which she gives more details and Prof. David Hazinski tees off on public affairs. That alone is worth the price of admission, which is watching some bad public service announcement advertising.

The real problem here is UGA has, for some foolish reason, moved all cop comments to a spokesman at the university PR office. In other words, another layer of flak bureaucracy that is simply not as responsive on journalists deadlines as it should be. The student journalist, in the post-show critique, said she'd tried multiple times since that morning to get a comment about the Tate security and kept getting stonewalled and passed around.

UGA, get it together. Or better yet, give the cops the right to speak. They know a hell of a lot more about this than a PR person. I promise you.

I suspect today a few conversations are being held at the UGA PR mothership on how to do better. Or there'll be a press release that blames the student journalist. Or something. Or nothing. It is a Friday, after all.

Or maybe it was just PR training day and no one was actually around? I dunno.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Religious Literacy

There's a study in the latest Journal of Media and Religion (full disclosure, I'm on the editorial board) that compares the "religious literacy" of mass communication and non-mass communication students. More on that in a moment. First, what is religious literacy? The study defines it as "how much people know about the factual details of a faith." It was measured by a 16-question instrument designed by another scholar, Stephen, in his 2007 book entitled, aptly enough, Religious Literacy: What every American needs to know--and doesn't. It must be scholarly. It has a colon in the title. I haven't read the book, so I can't speak to its rigor, but it appears to be solid stuff.

OK, enough of the academic stuff. How did the students fare?

Mass comm majors outperformed non-mass comm majors. Within mass comm, PR and photojournalism majors outperformed magazine, broadcast, and "convergence" majors. Advertising and print journalism students were in the middle of the pack.

Race and Faculty

There's this neat FiveThirtyEight analysis of the Mizzou issue and the demand by protesters that staff and faculty there reach 10 percent African American. By these numbers, FiveThirtyEight figures Mizzou would need to hire 400 more black staff and faculty.

OK, so how about UGA?

Using the latest data available on faculty race and ethnicity (Fall 2014), below is the faculty breakdown. I'll comment further below.

Faculty Percent
American Indian
Not Reported

So UGA falls far behind the protester mark. Now this is just faculty, it does not include staff. Unfortunately, I don't have ready access to race/ethnicity data for staff. I'll look harder later. So if UGA wanted to reach 10 percent of faculty, how many African American faculty would it need to hire? Glad you asked. As of now, 109 of 2,061 faculty are black. Hire another 109 black faculty -- in other words, double what we have -- and you'd hit 10 percent.

Not gonna happen for all kinds of reasons, the main one being there's no way we're getting the money to hire another 109 faculty, and you can't purposely hire only black faculty, and there aren't anywhere near enough organic faculty openings to make a difference.

But what the hell, I'm just running the numbers.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Female Faculty at UGA

While playing with data on a related matter, I peeked at the various schools and colleges at UGA (where I teach) and how they differ in terms of percentage of female faculty. The UGA overall percentage of just schools and colleges is 39.6 percent.

The results are in a table below and none really surprise. Leading the pack in percentage of female faculty are Family & Consumer Science, Education, and Social Work. Sadly, Engineering and Forestry suck.

UGA School
Percent Female
Forestry & Nat. Res.
Environment & Design
Ag and Env Science
Arts & Sciences
Journalism & Mass Comm
Vet Med
Public Health
Social Work
Family & Con Science

In terms of raw numbers, in case you're curious, Engineering is listed as having 56 faculty (51 full-time, 5 part-time), and of those 56, only seven are female. Congrats, guys. You may want to engineer better proportionality. In defense of these slacker programs, there may be a smaller pool of female faculty from which to draw when hiring. You want to go with the strongest candidate, not someone who fits a quota. And yet, and yet, 12.5 percent, just over 1 out of 10. That's bad. On the flip side, the females in the pool for jobs in Family and Consumer, or Education, is much greater.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Freshman Retention Rates

There's an interesting story in today's print issue of The Red & Black about UGA freshman retention rates. UGA's frosh retention rate inched higher, to 95.2 percent in the latest data. That's great news. To put this in context, it was 94.2 percent last year. But also to put it in context, it's been in the 94 percent neighborhood since, best I can tell looking back, 2005.

Here's a line from the story that gives this a hook.
The national average retention rate is 80 percent, while the six-year graduation national rate is 59 percent.
OK, but here's the deal when dealing with numbers like this. That 80 percent, it has a ceiling effect and includes lots of struggling schools with struggling students, so it's not all that impressive to compare UGA's retention rate with a national average. Instead, let's look at UGA's peers. Here we do damn well too, and it took me all of five seconds to find these data. The link should take you to page 2, which includes UGA. If you look, UF is just above us, as is Georgia Tech. Sigh, they always seem to be. Anyway, we're about where you'd expect with our peers and better than most, so good.

OK, but how about the reason why for the 1 percentage point increase? UGA's provost credits better advising and smaller classes, and there's no way to challenge that. I suspect there's no way to support that with the data either, but as it makes sense let's just let it slide.

The moral? Beware comparisons. Yes, UGA beats the national average in just about everything (except, maybe, football this year). But that's not saying a helluva lot. A better comparison is with a university's peer and aspirational institutions.


A part of the story I finally got around to checking. Yes, UGA has a record-breaking 6-year graduation rate for freshmen of 85.6 percent, but here's the part UGA doesn't mention to the R&B: the 4-year and 5-year freshman graduation rates went down compared to the previous cohort. Not by a lot, but down, a few fractions of a percentage point in both cases. Thanks to the Hope Scholarship, many of our students are on the 5-year and 6-year plan.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Beware the Polling Subgroups

I was ironing clothes this morning, half listening to Morning Joe on MSNBC (I jump around to the various cable channels, comparing journalistic malpractice, and usually Fox & Friends wins to a long shot).

They mentioned a Florida Decides poll, noting Donald Trump was ahead in that state -- even with Republican Hispanics.

Me being me I thought, "Wow, did they survey enough of those to really compare?" It's hard to say, but probably no. Here's the crosstabs we'll be looking at. Take your time, peruse them, because it'll help, then go down to the crosstabs of party identification and candidate preference. They're after the story.

Trump leads overall in Florida. OK. Got that. He leads among men and women. OK. And even among those ages 18-34. 

About that age thing. This is mostly a landline robo-poll. Some surveys were sent to smart phones not as calls, but actual surveys you have to fill out. Here's the methodological stuff:
This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode: respondents reachable on their home telephone (69% of registered voters) were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone (31% of registered voters) were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet or other electronic device.
Finally, Trump leads among Cuban Hispanics by two percentage points over Carson and Rubio, and by a much wider margin among non-Cuban Hispanics (41 percent, to 2nd place Carson's 15 percent). Think about that. Total GOP respondents was 922. What they don't tell you is how many were Hispanic. Or black. Or white. We don't get the raw numbers, but it's very likely the number of Hispanics in this sample was relatively small, with balloons the margin of error to the point where it's hard to say if Trump, despite what MSNBC said, is actually winning among Florida Hispanics.

In other words, beware when pollsters, or journalists, provide differences among subgroups. The margin of error for an entire sample does not apply to subgroups. Ever.