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Observations  // Browsing posts in Observations

12 May Posted by in Observations | 1 comment

Good Things

Good Things

Ends of semester are always a bit tense, particularly in the spring. People are tired, a subset of students (and others) get weird, it’s obviously past time for a break. This spring, we probably have even more distractions than usual, including a constrained budget situation and some clear challenges in the coming year. But—and this […]

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When It’s Time to Leave Academic Administration

When It’s Time to Leave Academic Administration

What follows involves a delicate topic, probably insufficiently discussed because of its delicacy.  But this issue deserves airing, and ultimately some wider discussion toward informal guidelines. I’ve had occasion, as a dean and now provost, at two different institutions, to watch the complex dance of administrator departure. The phenomenon is complicated enough to warrant some […]

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Teaching Oversight

Teaching Oversight

A talented colleague has raised an interesting issue, and since he did it publicly I don’t think it’s inappropriate to comment. Mills Kelly, in our History Department, has twice offered a course that involves students preparing a plausible public hoax and disseminating it (Wikipedia, etc.) for 10 days, after which it is explicitly disavowed. The […]

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24 Mar Posted by in Observations | 3 comments

Anger and Work

Anger and Work

A colleague noted yesterday (as I write) that he hadn’t seen me get angry very often, during the many years now that he and I have worked together. I think that’s a correct statement, though of course I’m open to correction from others (and I don’t mean that there haven’t been a few occasions). I […]

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Multiplicity University

Multiplicity University

One of the odd aspects of many current discussions of American university futures involves a certain all-or-nothing quality—either everything is going to change, as the existing model is fully outmoded—or nothing much should. What’s often missing, though there are exceptions, is an understanding that our most likely near future, and possibly even long-term future, will […]

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Big Mason or Bigger Mason

Big Mason or Bigger Mason

As a University, we’re about to turn from the process of crafting a new strategic vision, to an actual planning process based on that vision. One of the most interesting planning targets has to be size of student body. The President’s Vision statement clearly implies growth, but there are no specifics attached. It’s time to […]

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Peace, and University Opportunities

Peace, and University Opportunities

One of the striking things about the recent, unlamented presidential campaign was the absence of much reference to peace. At one of the debates, Romney used the term, which I found encouraging, but as far as I could tell Obama, the Nobel awardee, did not. At a point when we’ve ended one war and are […]

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06 Jan Posted by in Observations, Policies | Comments

College Sports

College Sports

These comments will surprise no likely reader, I admit in advance. They belabor the obvious. But sometimes it seems to me we need to dwell on the obvious in hopes that — despite all indications to the contrary — reality can be redone. It’s long been clear that the position of sports in American higher […]

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The Vanishing Race

The Vanishing Race

For some years educational institutions have been experiencing a fairly steady increase in the percentage of students who choose not to declare race. We had thought this trend might be modified by new census categories that allow multiple race identifications, but it has not. Now the trend is affecting faculty, bigtime. This year about 200 […]

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25 Nov Posted by in Academics, Observations | 1 comment

Rankings

Rankings

The recent news that yet another institution has provided inaccurate data for the US News and World Report survey—however inadvertently—is yet another reminder of the importance of not taking any of the surveys too literally. Several cases of inaccurate submissions, both for the main US News ranking and for the law school version, suggest how […]

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