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Dr. Stearns  // Posts published by Dr. Stearns

01 Oct Posted by in Faculty, Students | 1 comment

Course Evaluations

Course Evaluations

Here’s a subject that requires periodic comment. A recent NPR tweet referred to two interesting new efforts to demonstrate the relatively low value of student ratings of faculty. The results are worth attention, though they also have their own risks of misinterpretation. A Berkeley statistician notes that in many courses only half the students fill […]

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03 Sep Posted by in Academics, Faculty | Comments

Lecture

Lecture

Like many faculty of a certain age, I was brought up to assume that lecturing would be a key part of my functions as a teacher. Like most grad students back then, I was not really trained much in teaching at all, and what I did involved discussion sections, not lecturing. But I knew that […]

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13 Aug Posted by in Academics, Students | Comments

Fall ’14

Fall ’14

The imminence of the start of classes and return of students has me doing my annual self-evaluation, as to whether I’m basically excited or not. When I stop looking forward to the challenge it will clearly be time to quit – but not so far. I confess to being a bit more nervous than usual, […]

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PR

PR

I’m surprised that University public relations efforts haven’t received wider assessment, though as always of course I may have missed something. I know that many faculty roll their eyes a bit when big PR campaigns are presented, but that doesn’t necessarily lead to broader discussion. So I thought aspects of the topic might usefully be […]

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Introducing US Higher Ed

Introducing US Higher Ed

I have occasions still to help with presentations to visiting foreign groups, most commonly Chinese, and it occurs to me that the results raise some interesting topics. First, of course, is the question of what aspects of higher education to pick, when this is the subject requested. I’ll offer my recent choices, but I am […]

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Public Grief: History and Emotion

Public Grief: History and Emotion

A month or so before my service as provost ended we had a “shooter” exercise for our safety folks and upper administration. The idea of course is that some realistic scenarios would help us all deal with the real thing should it ever occur, and while I always disliked the simulation I can’t argue that […]

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22 Jun Posted by in Observations | 12 comments

Mason Goals

Mason Goals

This is the last blog I’ll write as Provost. I hope to continue blogging more occasionally, on various topics that reflect an appropriate distance from central administration. My thanks to those who’ve followed my blogs over these several years (both of you? Are there more?). I’ve appreciated the interest and reaction. I am actually turning […]

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15 Jun Posted by in Administration, Faculty | Comments

Penultimate: Going Back to Faculty

Penultimate: Going Back to Faculty

My last blog as provost shows up next week (as will be noted then, I intend to keep blogging more occasionally, on my new History Department website), but I thought it would be interesting to muse briefly about going back to faculty. I have intensely enjoyed being Provost (much of the time), but it is […]

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08 Jun Posted by in Observations | Comments

Politics

Politics

One of the interesting aspects of serving in higher administration, in a public university, involves the obvious need to seem, and be, fairly even-handed politically. I may not have done this as well as I should, having fairly pronounced and obvious liberal views (if not worse), but at least I don’t seem to have gotten […]

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BOV

BOV

Unless something goes radically awry, I’ve now experienced my last meeting of Mason’s Board of Visitors. Not surprisingly, preparing for, encountering and recovering from BOV meetings is a key aspect of upper administration work. I won’t deny that there is usually some tension involved. Even when issues are fairly simple – and that’s been largely […]

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