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Observations  // Browsing posts in Observations

11 Nov Posted by in Observations, Region | 1 comment

Super Sandy

Super Sandy

We’re still assessing lessons learned from Sandy, and the process remains interesting particularly as it impinges on “the next time”. First, of course, we were very lucky, and my continued sympathies for colleagues in NY-NJ who face ongoing adjustments both on campus and at home. Second, Mason is pretty well organized now, a large team […]

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Ethics and Academic Leadership

Ethics and Academic Leadership

How’s that for an unusually pompous title? Actually, until a few years ago I would have hesitated to venture anything formal on ethics. I’m obviously not a professional ethicist—that remains the case—and I also have some hesitations about seeming to be preachy.  But after some years as Provost, I do have some firmer views about […]

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14 Oct Posted by in Observations, Policies, Region | Comments

Budgets and Tuitions

Budgets and Tuitions

A recent visit from a legislative official—seemingly a nice, responsible guy and a friend of Mason—brought comments about his bafflement about how higher education costs keep soaring, tuitions keep rising, there must be a storehouse of waste and inefficiency. I was, frankly, nonplussed—not at the comments, which are now common enough, but at the source, […]

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30 Sep Posted by in Observations | 1 comment

Emails

Emails

I was intrigued and frankly astounded a week ago to read in the Post the report on many companies that are shutting down email systems at night and on weekends, to try to promote better, less work-haunted lifestyles and prevent burnout. It’s always intriguing to learn about concerns and systems so strikingly different from one’s […]

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Mason and the Region

Mason and the Region

To me, the most interesting thing to emerge from the University’s annual planning retreat last week was the reminder of our historical connection with Northern Virginia and the opportunity to renew and redefine this connection to mutual benefit. It’s pretty well known that regional leaders first sparked an interest in having a higher education institution […]

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Research

Research

This effort is designed to stimulate intelligent discussion around a topic that is more complex than many realize. We’re heading into a strategic planning process, and the subject of research will be central. Mason is a strong and rising research university, though not in the top tier as yet. Funded research has grown by about […]

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Graduation Rates

Graduation Rates

I was intrigued by an article last week on the growing pressure on flagship state universities to increase 4-year graduation rates. Part of my fascination involves flagship envy (see the new DSM on this disease). Flagship schools have resources that I would welcome for Mason, which means they have options, for example in the graduation […]

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Pesky Liberal Education Goals

Pesky Liberal Education Goals

I’ve written before about my concern over the orchestrated emphasis on the STEM or STEM-H fields. Understandable concern for American deficiencies in STEM recruits plus the desire to link education directly with first jobs generates an arguably disproportionate focus on STEM, including, in some cases, favored funding. I actually agree with expanding STEM enrollments, but […]

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Morale

Morale

On a conference panel last week, chatting with colleagues from other institutions — one to the north of Mason, one to the south — I asked, of course, about how things were going. The intensity of the responses surprised me: morale was plummeting amid budget cuts, lack of ability to replace departing colleagues, and larger […]

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Undergrad Research

Undergrad Research

I’ve written before about Mason’s major initiative, the Students as Scholars project, focused on undergraduate research and creativity. This was the year that the project shifted from planning to implementation. It’s still soon to judge, of course, but initial results are very encouraging. We had the first celebration of achievement this past week, with a […]

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