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Dr. Stearns  // Posts published by Dr. Stearns

Mason Songdo

Mason Songdo

We’re moving into a new phase of Mason’s Korea project – at last, an active implementation phase – but the preliminaries were sufficiently complex and prolonged that it’s worth commenting again on key highlights of the project. We’re now committed to opening two programs for freshman in March of next year – in Management and […]

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Teaching Spaces

Teaching Spaces

This is not one of my usual categories, but it may be time for some radical proposals, based on things we already know. To wit, a number of faculty are already usefully combining class sessions with online, in hybrid offerings that, properly arranged (and this is a registrar challenge in part) can relieve pressure on […]

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08 Sep Posted by in Students | 8 comments

Some Lessons in ADHD

Some Lessons in ADHD

You may know this, but my sense is the knowledge is not widespread: ADHD is an essentially contemporary disease, which means additionally that it needs to be explained (in part) historically. My goal here is not a big history lesson, but a couple of particulars are essential. Hints of identifying hyperactive kids in school go […]

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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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25 Aug Posted by in Academics, Faculty, Policies | 8 comments

Tenure, Again

Tenure, Again

Recent developments make it clear that some renewed discussion of tenure is desirable—but the same developments point in dramatically different directions. A challenging Bloomberg View blog (Mark Bauerlein, August 5, 2013) really lays out the case against old fart faculty. Data do suggest that a large number of tenured faculty are continuing to work, and […]

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18 Aug Posted by in Academics, Faculty, Students | 8 comments

Student Writing

Student Writing

Here’s a neat way to try to keep ourselves educationally honest, as we deal with the many challenges to America’s university system: continue to pay real attention to student writing. I’ve never been one of the direst lamenters of student writing, which might be a sign of relaxed standards (measurable also by authoring so many […]

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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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04 Aug Posted by in Faculty, Policies | 9 comments

Shared Governance

Shared Governance

We’re having a somewhat unexpected (to me) conversation with our governing board (Board of Visitors) about shared governance. It’s no secret that the Board, like most Boards, does not have a lot of academic background, and the strange ways that universities lurch along are not fully familiar to them. In the case of shared governance, […]

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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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