John Bardo, former chancellor of Western Carolina University, is being paid $280,000 this year to retool for a return to the classroom and to conduct academic research.
Bardo wrote that his research concerns the relationships between higher education, the economy and community development. The theme is a familiar one that he often addressed and promoted during his time as WCU’s chancellor.
“This is a particularly important question given changes in the economy related to technology and globalization,” the former chancellor wrote in an email interview, adding that the work has required assembling a large-scale database on all 50 states.
“… that has allowed me to look at statistical predictors of unemployment, the demand for educated workers, median household income, and per capita state GDP,” Bardo wrote. “Also as a part of this work I have been able to identify statistical structural components of the state-level new economy; structural components of university activities; and structural components of enrollment characteristics of students. Using these components I have been able to successfully statistically predict differences among the states in the key economic variables described above.”
Bardo noted that he’s building a “live database,” so that he can add variables as they become available, allowing him to extend the analysis.
Bardo wrote that his research would help provide an in-depth look at the nature of universities and how they link to the needs of the states, regions, and communities. The former chancellor said that he’s at work on a book-length manuscript that would make specific recommendations on two fronts:
• Ways that states might re-structure their higher education institutions to align them more with changing external conditions.
• How these recommendations affect internal university operations.
“Obviously, this research could have implications for policy in North Carolina as well as nationally,” Bardo wrote in the email.
Additionally, the former chancellor said that he’s spending time relearning software for one of his primary academic areas, “the application of research methodology and applied statistics to understanding real world problems.”
“As you can imagine, in the decades during which I was in administration a great deal changed with regard to software that supports teaching and research,” Bardo wrote. “Part of my work has involved learning the new version of the key software that supports this area of teaching. It is very different than it was two decades ago.”