The Harvard University dean who authorized searches of the e-mail accounts of some resident deans (who are something like junior faculty members) has announced she will return to the faculty. Numerous press accounts seemed to suggest a link between the departure of Evelynn M. Hammonds as dean of Harvard College, and the controversy over the e-mail searches. But she told reporters that there was no such link. The Harvard announcement said that she had decided to return to teaching and research. Hammonds will lead a new program for the study of race and gender in science and medicine.
Faculty members at Transylvania University have voted, 68 to 7, no confidence in President Owen Williams, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported. Faculty members object to the president's refusal to grant tenure to two faculty members who had passed reviews and who, faculty leaders said, had performed the work they had been told would assure tenure. Professors also criticized the president's management style. Trustees responded with a unanimous vote expressing confidence in Williams.
Ninety-two percent of tenured faculty members at Green River Community College have voted no confidence in President Eileen Ely, The Seattle Times reported. The faculty members criticized an atmosphere that they say has cut them out of decision-making and numerous unilateral changes that have led to, among other things, significant turnover among senior officials at the college. Ely told the Times that she disagreed with the faculty statement, but valued the input of professors and hoped to have a "courageous conversation" with those who organized the vote. Faculty leaders said that they did not ask those without tenure to vote because they did not want to endanger their job security.
Colleges have faced increased pressure in the last year from student and environment activists to sell off investments in fossil fuel companies, but most colleges that have acted on those requests have very small endowments, and relatively few such investments to start with. Brown University (which has a substantial endowment) on Friday announced that its board had discussed but not voted on the recommendation of the Advisory Committee on Corporate Responsibility in Investment Policies that the university sell holdings in 15 companies that mine or burn coal. A university statement said that no formal action was taken on the advisory panel's report.
A Brown statement said: "During the business meeting of the corporation, members asked the university to identify ways to work with students, faculty, staff, peer institutions, and other strategic partners to develop a robust response to climate change and to assume a greater leadership role on the issue of CO2 emissions. Corporation action on the issue of divestment was not expected at this meeting, and the corporation confirmed that the complexity of the divestment issue warrants further discussion before responding to the ACCRIP’s recommendation."
Thomas R. Kepple Jr., the departing president of Juniata College, has been chosen to lead the American Academic Leadership Institute, which trains future college presidents and other senior administrators. As the new president of the nonprofit institute, which derives funds from its for-profit subsidiary, Academic Search, Inc., Kepple will oversee the Senior Leadership Academy, which is sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges and prepares mid-level administrators for positions as provosts and vice presidents in all divisions) and Executive Leadership Academy (which prepares provosts and vice presidents to become presidents). The latter program is cosponsored by both CIC and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. Both organizations receive support from the AALI. Kepple replaces Ann Die Hasselmo as leader of AALI. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version to clarify the relationships between the organizations.)
Among the several hundred students who graduated one Saturday this month, I noticed a few distinct styles of handshakes:
The Grad Grip: The most commonly seen handshake at commencement. The student waits patiently at the side of the stage for his name to be called, smiles broadly while crossing the eight feet or so of space between us, notices my outstretched right hand, grabs it for a few shakes, sees the degree I’m offering them, plucks it from my left hand, pauses briefly for a picture, then dashes for the other side of the stage.
The Near-Miss: It’s an important moment — the culmination of years of hard work and sacrifice, and now everyone is watching. And then there are all those strangely dressed people on the stage. And bagpipe music? It’s enough to make anyone a little nervous, and nearly miss a handshake in the rush to grab that diploma and make it safely to the other side. A half step back to grab that offered hand, though, and all is well.
The Paparazzi Pump: Even with the hired phalanx of photographers at the edge of the stage, some students like to have a family member or friend backing them up and snapping (clicking?) the moment for posterity. The Paparazzi Pump happens when I shake hands and the student doesn’t let go — vigorously continuing the shake and grinning off to the side until they get the "thumbs up" from their camera-toting buddy in the crowd.
The Rockstar: This one’s not what you think it is. Yes, many students wear cool-looking sunglasses and even rhinestone-studded mortarboards to celebrate the Big Day; but this handshake — which involves rapidly pumping my hand up and down like the beating of a hummingbird’s wings — comes from the natural excitement and energy of the moment — or the enormous amount of caffeine in the large Dunkies coffee or "Rockstar" energy drink they had just after breakfast.
The Mad Men Mash: Favored by 1960s advertising executives (and some 21st-century business and accounting majors), the Mad Men Mash is usually practiced by graduates wearing nicely pressed suits and ties, and involves striding proudly across the stage, extending an arm straightforward, gripping my hand like a vise, looking me directly in the eye, and saying a clear and confident, "Thank you," to the applause of a cheering claque of admirers.
The Proud Lefty: For the photograph to work just right, it’s important that I shake with my right hand, and distribute degrees with my left, so I am careful to hold my right hand out just as each student begins to cross the stage so they know what to expect. Invariably, though, there are some southpaws who insist on a left-handed shake, requiring that I quickly change hands with the diploma and shift my position in the box. (Be proud, lefties! I just hope those pictures are turning out O.K.…)
The iShake: This one’s a relative newcomer to commencement. Those robes don’t come with pockets, you know, so what’s a newly minted college graduate to do with her car keys, pocket book, commencement program, and cell phone? Well, the keys, purse and program will be just fine left behind on the folding chair, but the iPhone? At least a dozen of Saturday’s grads brought it along and did the iShake.
Hmmm …. By next year, maybe someone will develop an app for that.
Lane Glenn is president of Northern Essex Community College.