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Observations  // Browsing posts in Observations

The Vanishing Race

The Vanishing Race

For some years educational institutions have been experiencing a fairly steady increase in the percentage of students who choose not to declare race. We had thought this trend might be modified by new census categories that allow multiple race identifications, but it has not. Now the trend is affecting faculty, bigtime. This year about 200 […]

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25 Nov Posted by in Academics, Observations | 1 comment

Rankings

Rankings

The recent news that yet another institution has provided inaccurate data for the US News and World Report survey—however inadvertently—is yet another reminder of the importance of not taking any of the surveys too literally. Several cases of inaccurate submissions, both for the main US News ranking and for the law school version, suggest how […]

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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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