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Dr. Stearns  // Posts published by Dr. Stearns

The Distance Challenge

The Distance Challenge

This will be an important year for distance education at Mason. We’ve been expanding distance offerings and enrollments fairly rapidly over the past four years, well above our overall expansion rate. This year we’ll be putting more whole programs on line, with a different pricing structure and, probably, a new marketing structure as well. The […]

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A Meaningful Global Experience

A Meaningful Global Experience

We’re still refining our strategic plan, so what I’m writing about now may change a bit. But one concise goal that seems to resonate well involves pledging a “meaningful global experience” for every undergraduate. Even though we have a decent start on this goal already, it’s a major innovation, writ large in this fashion, and […]

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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 Some of the issues surface actively in discussing new goals, mainly in terms of our stance toward conventional (outdated?)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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Revisiting the Global Problem Solving Consortium

Revisiting the Global Problem Solving Consortium

I’ve written on this before, but the project is gaining momentum so an update may be in order. The idea of the consortium stems from several impulses: first, improving levels of global awareness for students; second and more specifically, turning universities more explicitly toward exploring and possibly even alleviating various global problems; and third, as […]

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09 Jun Posted by in Academics, Faculty, Students | 1 comment

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

One of the most challenging aspects of higher education, particularly in the current skeptical climate, is figuring out what value we add. The pressure to improve assessment, now at least two decades old, is actually quite justifiable, but hard to satisfy without resorting to the kind of testing we don’t want in colleges—testing that would […]

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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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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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Inclusiveness

Inclusiveness

As many of my readers know, we have a new strategic vision for the University that includes a number of interesting elements. One feature, which I’ve written about before, implies a commitment to growth which we’re now trying to translate into more specific strategic planning. A related feature involves inclusiveness. Our President notes publicly that […]

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