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Observations  // Browsing posts in Observations

20 Oct Posted by in Observations, Students | 2 comments

Family Weekend

Family Weekend

This weekend was Mason’s family weekend, and I was asked to make a few welcoming remarks. It’s always a nice occasion. I think the parents involved really do enjoy the chance to look around the school, enjoy various activities.  Like many schools we try to provide a mixture of opportunities, including some designed-to-please academic sessions, […]

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The Charms and Perils of STEM-H

The Charms and Perils of STEM-H

The current pressure on universities to produce more STEM-H grads is well known.  I did have the pleasure of a recent public presentation in which an audience member did not know what STEM stood for, and I wanted to hug him.  But the enthusiasm for Science Technology Engineering Math (and Health) is familiar enough.  It’s […]

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Quality

Quality

I had a great discussion recently with Deans about aspects of our strategic planning. They, and some of their faculty, grew legitimately concerned that in our enthusiasm for growth and innovation we did not place enough emphasis on the quality of our outcomes. I do think the reminder is salutary, though I don’t think it […]

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Administrative Bloat

Administrative Bloat

Among the various critiques of higher education, and particularly of the policies of administrators like me, you can imagine that the phrase “administrative bloat” is my favorite. It’s been tossed around by concerned faculty for quite a while, and now periodically enters into the more contemporary discussions of college costs. In my comments on this […]

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28 Jul Posted by in Observations, Policies | 1 comment

In Praise of (a certain amount of) Messiness

In Praise of (a certain amount of) Messiness

A big university like Mason inevitably has accumulated, even in our case of a relatively short life, a number of organizational peculiarities and anomalies. Not everything is located in tidy boxes. It’s certainly appropriate recurrently to look at the resultant anomalies. If, particularly in the current fiscal climate, organizational untidiness costs unnecessary money, or results […]

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Higher Ed Framework Revisited

Higher Ed Framework Revisited

A recent Washington Post business section comment on higher education (Sunday, July 14), based loosely on Jay Selingo’s challenging new book, College Unbound, prompts some comment. It covers ground familiar to devoted readers, but given its obvious currency the repetition is warranted. The column blasts higher ed on two grounds, one essentially inaccurate at least […]

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Changed My Mind

Changed My Mind

As we discuss strategies for Mason’s future, I’ve been thinking about some assumptions I brought to my job 13 and a half years ago, and how I’ve rethought them. Some of the issues surface actively in discussing new goals, mainly in terms of our stance toward conventional (outdated?) status symbols. When I came to Mason, […]

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China Connections

China Connections

As I embark on my fifth trip to China, a few thoughts on Mason’s links to this vital global player. In the first place, Mason’s Chinese activities vividly illustrate the fruitful combination of planning and serendipity. We have long identified China as one of our clear partner areas—and we’ve built faculty, curricular and linguistic capacity […]

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26 May Posted by in Faculty, Observations | Comments

Faculty Senates

Faculty Senates

One of my jobs as Provost is to maintain, insofar as possible, good relations with the Faculty Senate. Let me stress immediately that while I think this is an important goal, in terms of maintaining a vigorous academic community, it is not usually a hard one. Senate leadership at Mason has usually been most cordial […]

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19 May Posted by in Observations, Students | 4 comments

Changing the World

Changing the World

This is an adaptation of some brief graduation remarks I recently offered, so meant to be in the spirit of the season. I watch a good bit of college basketball, and in the process see a lot of university ads. They’re mostly fairly awful, and it would be a service to have a good faith […]

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