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Observations  // Browsing posts in Observations

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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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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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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