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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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02 Jun Posted by in Faculty, Policies, Research | Comments

Rewarding Innovative Faculty

Rewarding Innovative Faculty

A faculty member recently wrote to ask how the University rewards “disruptively” innovative faculty whose contributions lay outside formal research. I had to think about this one, among other things because adducing individual examples would not always be appropriate. But it’s a good question, and I think I have elements of an answer. I leave […]

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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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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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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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10 Mar Posted by in Faculty, International | 3 comments

Global Information: A New Mason Register

Global Information: A New Mason Register

One of the perennial challenges in trying to build a global university involves developing and sharing appropriate levels of information about what’s already happening. We had the experience a few years ago of rounding up about 35 faculty interested in Africa, from various disciplinary standpoints. Not only had many of them not met before, as […]

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23 Feb Posted by in Faculty, Policies | Comments

Promotion and Tenure

Promotion and Tenure

At the Provost’s level, this is promotion and tenure decision season at George Mason, and given how large P and T looms for all participants some comments seem inescapable. Obviously, I have no particular cases, past or present, in mind in these comments, but some general remarks could be useful. This is also, not coincidentally, […]

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17 Feb Posted by in Academics, Faculty | 2 comments

Law Schools in Crisis

Law Schools in Crisis

It’s probably fairly widely known, and not just in law schools, that most law schools have been facing, now for several years, a serious decline in applications. The result is particularly important for the schools themselves, but the results impinge on the wider academic enterprise as well. Again, the crisis is widespread, and I’m not […]

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