Friday, February 26, 2016

UGA Transportation Survey

In my email inbox today was an email from UGA's parking folks. The first awful graph is this:
The Office of University Architects has contracted with Atlanta-based firm, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., to assist in a Campus Corridors Transportation Study for several distinct areas of campus that are experiencing challenges in pedestrian and vehicular circulation or are anticipated to see an increase in growth in the coming years.
Oh my. Who wrote that? Is it vital you open with all those proper nouns instead of, oh, getting to the friggin point?

OK, lemme take off my writer hat and put on my survey hat, because later in the email it tells (warns) us:

Stakeholder and campus community involvement activities are scheduled for March 15th, 16th, and 17th.  In advance of these activities, we’d like to gather campus feedback about both general transportation choices and specific issues related to the study area. Take the survey online at this link:
Jeez I hateve the word stakeholder. Can someone for God's sake put a stake through the heart of that word and make it go away? Please? Oh, wait. Sorry. Still had my writer hat on. My survey hat says let's take a look at this survey. Here's the first of it below.

How old are you? And I have to give the exact age, and type it in? I'm gonna show this to my graduate Public Opinion class next and see if they see how badly that's formatted. If no one gets it, they're all failed.

Later they ask you what are the worst bus stops with congestion and gives three locations, none of which are the worst. The worst, by far, is near Joe Frank Harris on East Campus, but that's not among the three listed. WTF?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Not Much UGA Giving

I decided for the fun of it to check the campaign contribution data on people who listed the University of Georgia (where I teach) as their employer. Not a lot to report. I kept the search from 1/1/2015 until today, to keep it reasonable, and below I'll report only the interesting stuff. I've left out the names.
  • A political science professor likes to give to a PAC that supports Hillary Clinton. It's the only "soft money" contribution listed in the time frame from UGA, all of $300.
  • Offsetting the above, a biochemistry and molecular biology professor really likes to give to the Republican National Committee with 11 $200 donations.
  •  There are a couple of direct Hillary Clinton donations (a hefty one from a philosophy prof), none for Sen. Bernie Sanders, and no donations I can see directly to any of the Republicans vying for their party's nomination.
  • Except, someone gave $2,700 to Scott Walker, who dropped out ages ago (way to pick 'em). Although this person lists his employer at UGA, I can't find him listed. Turns out he's on the UGA Foundation board and has a firm in Atlanta -- so UGA is hardly his employer. 
I'll return to this when we get down to a Democrat and Republican nominee (and perhaps a third party candidate as well) and at that time I'll name names and break it down more.

Survey Says ...

So here's the hed: Low safety rates for UGA students in Athens

Except it's not safety, it's based on an SGA survey asking students about safety. You can see it yourself in this news story, complete with a couple of graphics breaking down the differences in perceived safety on campus, and in Athens. 

It's a good story idea. And it's an example of how not to do a poll story.

Here's what we don't know:

  • Do the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (we call these "response alternatives" in the survey biz) reflect anything? Was a 5 "very safe" and a 1 "not safe at all"? Need context. Indeed, I'd need to look at the whole questionnaire, because I worry too about question order. In a real survey, you'd randomize the order of these two questions. If not, one response could affect the other.
  • And this lede: "A survey from Student Government Association rated off-campus safety 3 out of 5." What the hell is a 3 out of 5? I'm staring at that graphic, and I still don't get it. Three out of five? If you compute a mean score of all the survey questions, you do get a 2.9 (round to 3) for that question. If you're curious, the mean for the "on camps" question is 3.8. But I had to do this by hand. And I shouldn't have.
  • How was this survey done? Yeah, I see there were 334 responses, but to what, people hanging out in Tate Plaza annoying hungry students? An online poll? A random sample, or a convenience sample or, even worse, a SLOP? This matters, and journalists are supposed to ask these questions about polls and make this information available. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Obama is Still Muslim

I'm a big user of data from the American National Election Studies, as are most who tinker in the academic world of political science and communication. The 2016 "pilot study" just came out (where they test new questions) and I was skimming it, mildly curious, when I discovered they asked whether Obama is a Muslim. And they asked a follow-up (see below). I have some history with this question, having published research on the matter.

So, in 2016, is Obama still a Muslim? You bet he is. At least according to one-third of a random sample of U.S. adults.

The survey asked 1,200 respondents: "Is Barack Obama a Muslim, or is he not a Muslim?" Survey says:

Yes - 400 (33.3 percent)
No  - 794 (66.2 percent)
No Answer - 6 (0.5 percent)

The follow-up question asked: "How sure are you about that?" This is where things get kinda interesting. To summarize, respondents were more sure about him not being a Muslim than they were about him being a Muslim. That's heartening, I suppose. Nearly half of those who said Obama is not Muslim were very sure, while only one-quarter of those who thought he was Muslim were very sure. The bar chart below breaks it down for you. Among those "extremely sure," we see more of the Obama-is-not-a-Muslim folks. But ... in the "moderately" and "very" sure categories, we see more of the Obama-is-a-Muslim folks. 

For you stats nerds, this is X2 = 82.3, df = 4, p<.001. If you examine the standardized residuals, you'll see more Obama-is-Muslim folks than would be expected by chance are found in the middle groups, and fewer in the extremes (not at all sure, or extremely sure). For those even more nerdy, yes by t-test that "not a Muslim" folks are more confident (M = 3.8) than are the "he's a Muslim" folks (M = 3.5, t = 3.5, df = 1192, p<.001)

For fun one day this week (or spring break, woo hoo) I'll break it down further. Who are the "extremely sure" folks on Obama's Mulsimness, and how do they differ from those who think he's Muslim but aren't quite as sure.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Politico's "insiders"

I enjoy reading Politico every morning, though I refuse to use all-caps for its name. I also wonder about its "Insiders" series of stories based on semi-anonymous interviews with, obviously, campaign insiders from key states as we grind our way through the presidential nomination process.

So far we've had Iowa, in which the "insiders" predicted Trump and Clinton wins. Trump didn't win, and Clinton barely did (and some Sanders fans dispute even that, but like Cam Newton can we just set aside the sulking and whining?). In all fairness, the "insiders" didn't write off a Cruz victory in Iowa (which he won). So a point for that.

How about tonight, in New Hampshire?

The "insiders" predict Trump and Sanders will be the winners. Safe bets, both. The insiders also kinda like Cruz and Rubio as second-place finishers. We'll see on that one. If Google searches are any indication, we may be in for a surprise there.

Friday, February 5, 2016

UGA Recruiting Class

So how well did the Dawgs do in this year's recruiting class? Good, by most standards. I took the site's data and looked from 2002-2016 in terms of the rankings. See the graphic below. Lower is, of course, better when it comes to how UGA ranks in recruiting classes compared to other schools. In 2016 we're ranked 9th (higher by others). The best was in 2005-2006 when Scout had us with two #4 classes in a row. UGA has never been higher than #4 by this site, the last time in 2011.

Story Idea Friday

Often on Friday's I like to recommend a story idea or two that student journalists at UGA should pursue. I'm not saying they'll end up being good stories. You don't know until you sniff around, ask a few questions, read a report or two. So here's my idea for the day from the monthly EITS (our computer folks) report:
Housing Residents Give Feedback about Wireless Service: Based on student feedback, EITS recently conducted a survey of residents in University Housing about PAWS-Secure wireless service. The survey focused on specific residence halls with wireless issues and times of service degradation. Of the 8,000 residents in University Housing, about 40 percent completed the survey. EITS and University Housing will soon determine the next steps to quickly address gaps in wireless service for the residence halls. For more information about the survey, please contact Kerri Testement at
How about that. We have a survey, we have a topic students care about (Wifi), and we hav a friggin contact person.

Make sure, on the survey, you get the questionnaire and the raw data. If they fudge because there's "identifying information" in the survey (there shouldn't be), ask them to strip all identifying info and give you the raw data either as a spreadsheet or ASCII test, and then pull it into the appropriate program. Also ask for any reports they've generated from the data, such as an executive summary.

There's a story there. I promise.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

UGA Travel Winners

One of the oddities of the UGA salary data (fresh out for 2015) is it includes travel monies. You know what I mean, the hundred bucks here, the hundred bucks there, that some of us use to attend scholarly conferences or engage in research.

Well, there's travel money, and then there's travel money. Here are the top folks, according to state data out this week. The names have been removed to protect the frequent flyer. In parentheses is that person's salary for 2015 as well, just for fun). Oh, and the top person is a scientist in the college of ag and environmental sciences, so that kinda makes sense and probably paid for by grants.

  1. $55,268.46 ($194,529.80)
  2. $46,745.38 ($168,885.96)
  3. $38,865.51 ($103,173.00)
  4. $35,516.28 ($104,213.90)
  5. $34,245.79 ($30,018.79) 
OK, hold on. What the hell with that last one with travel higher than salary? This person is a research professional with an institute on campus. I can only assume this individual travels a lot as part of a grant. You do see that kind of thing, though for the most part the travel money seems to line up well with the salary money. How well? Well, Mr. Correlation tells us it's r = .51. That's a fairly significant correlation.

Oh, by the way, I get about a thousand dollars a year in travel money. A thousand bucks. Just thought I'd add a little bitter context.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Assistant Prof Salaries

For those among you unversed in academic titles, the rankings go from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor to Professor (sometimes called full professor, and this sets aside lecturers and the like). Promotion from assistant to associate usually includes tenure, though a handful of overachievers will seek promotion two years early to get the salary bump and then make us read their packages again for tenure. Academic asses.

Anyway, the 2015 salary data are out and I'm looking at the UGA slice, playing with job titles and salaries and all the rest. I listed the Top 20 UGA salaries earlier. In this post let's look at the very public data and the assistant professors who make, well, a lot of money compared to certain full professors in journalism who write a blog and can afford to be bitter about such stuff.

By my count there are 16 assistant profs who make more than $200,000 a year, roughly double my overly generous full professor salary. Three are tied for #1 with exactly the same salary. Yes, all three are in the Terry College (business school) and all make, according to the state salary data, $262,474.80. Yes, the same exact amount, even down to that last 80 cents. Go figure. Best I can tell, all the very top assistant profs are in Accounting. Better pay than H&R Block, I suppose, even in income tax season. 

Indeed, every assistant professor who makes over $200,000 a year works in the business school. Yup, every single one. 


I could plop their names here and engage in a little salary shaming. It is a public record, after all, but hopefully they're embarrassed enough come payday. After all, the average assistant professor pay at UGA appears to be about $83,000, give or take. This number is fuzzy as it lists any and all assistant profs in 2015, even those who left. For example, the lowest salary is $1,384 and we know that makes no sense.

On another post I'll list the top salaries for faculty who do not have some administrative duties, such as department head or dean, etc. Those? They're in the mid $300k range. Yeah, scary, and I even vaguely recall one of them complaining on a different discussion board last year about how the lack of competitive salaries at UGA. Dude. Just stop.

UGA Salary Data

The 2015 state salary data is available (thanks, AJC), which means it's time for me to break down the UGA salaries. Who are the winners? Today, just a quick-and-dirty look at the top money makers at UGA. On another day I'll break it down every more, as I've done in the past.

Okay, so let's keep it simple. The UGA Top 20 are below. No promises on the quality of the formatting and I had to shrink the text size to make it fit. Sorry. I'm just cutting and pasting from a spreadsheet. Keep in mind that a lot of these top folks aren't here any more (Adams, Landers, Richt). But these are 2015 data.

RICHT,MARK A COACH $399,999.96
LEO,DONALD  DEAN AC $306,800.04

On another day I'll have fun and show you all the assistant professors who make more than most full professors. Yes, they're in the business school and, yes, it kinda sucks. Unless of course you happen to be in the business school.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Poll About ... Condiments?

So I'm innocently reading Twitter, minding my own public opinion scholarly business, and I see this tweet from my nearby major metro paper:
A poll? About condiments? Really?

So I go to the page to see my "response alternatives," which is pubopspeak for the choices given to me in a poll. They are:

Hot Sauce

Which seems a likely enough list. Me being me, I voted for hot sauce (Cajun wife) and discovered readers of the poll are clearly misinformed about their own favorite condiments, at least so far. See to the left the results when I voted, one of 132 people and one of 20 who got it right.

Now, what can we make of this? Nothing at all, of course. It's a silly poll, just for fun, filled out by people with an odd affection for mayonnaise. Such silly online polls are fine if they're not taken seriously, not used to drive a news story.

But mayo? Really? Sheesh.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Our VP

UGA has a VP now called of "marketing and communications." Read about her here. When you're the head of all that is info at a big university, it's interesting to know who you follow, and who follows you, on something like Twitter. Social media is everything these days, after all.

So ... here it is.

  • She follows 55. Mostly other schools, a few journalists, a few news orgs. Makes sense.
  • She's followed by 19, mostly ... um ... Exotic Truffle? Some consultant types, some other folks, and the all-important FreshmanInsiderUGA (an SGA thing? Not sure). Odds are no one knows she's out there, so she's not followed all that much.
  • And she has three likes, though I can only see two. One is Vandy in the snow, her alma mater.
  • And if she's tweeting, I can't tell from her main page because, in full disclosure and full marketing and full communications, it's not public. Plus she has that default image thing going.
These are the things I do while waiting for my ride to show.

Spring Break

It's February 1, so of course we're all thinking of Spring Break. I found this list of spring breaks of universities (and oddly, high schools), and let's accept for the moment that it's accurate. Me being me, I immediately exported this into a spreadsheet so I could more easily manipulate the data. I wondered, among universities, who may be having spring break together and who may be avoiding (accidentally, of course) one another.

First off, the earliest on the list belongs to the University of Florida (my alma mater), at 2/27 to 3/7. The latest belongs to Kennesaw State, at 4/2 to 4 4/8. Too early, and too late.

Now, who is breaking with whom? Let's look at UGA, as I teach there. UGA has its spring break on 3/7 - 3/11.

With UGA (either same or overlapping): Vanderbilt, Ball State, Emory, Mercer, Eastern Tennessee, Tennessee Tech, University of Central Florida, University of Southern Indiana, University of Memphis, Missouri State University, and Florida Institute of Technology. Notice who's missing? Georgia Tech is at a different time. So is University of Florida. That alone will cut down on drunken spring break brawls. Of this list, UGA has no likely issues with any of them.

It appears 3/14 is the most popular spring break starting date. Indeed, the 3/14 to 3/18 has 22 entries, though that count includes high schools (again, I have no idea why but I'm not gonna take the time to knock them out of the spreadsheet). Many others have 3/14 as a start date but slightly different ending dates, depending I suppose on whether you list on your site that Friday as the end, or that Sunday. Basically, 3/14 is Prime Time for Spring Break.

Bonus Safety Tip: Alabama and Auburn slightly overlap. Avoid bars on those days.