faculty

Colleges start new programs

Smart Title: 

Obama Will Honor 12 With Humanities Medals

President Obama has named 12 people to receive the National Humanities medal:

  • Edward L. Ayers, president of the University of Richmond and historian of the Civil War era.
  • William G. Bowen, former president of Princeton University, and author of books about higher education.
  • Jill Ker Conway, former president of Smith College.
  • Natalie Zemon Davis, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History Emeritus.
  • Frank Deford, the sports writer.
  • Joan Didion, the essayist and novelist.
  • Robert D. Putnam, professor of government at Harvard University.
  • Marilynne Robinson, the novelist.
  • Kay Ryan, former poet laureate of the United States.
  • Robert B. Silvers, co-founder of The New York Review of Books.
  • Anna Deavere Smith, the actress and playwright.
  • Camilo José Vergara, the photographer.

More details about the honorees may be found here.

 

 

Ad keywords: 

Essay about being a successful academic and victim of domestic abuse

This essay is as timely as it is unlikely. Timely, because many studies have correlated economic crises, such as the one corroding the academic job market as well as so many other career prospects, with a rise in domestic abuse. Unlikely, because I am far from the type of person whom one would expect to chronicle personal experience in this area.

None of the stereotypes apply. I am a professor at a respected university with what many people (not just my mother) would describe as an international reputation in her field. The product of a white, upper-middle-class professional household, I seldom heard my father raise his voice to my mother -- his raising his hand would have been inconceivable. Their marriage was perhaps not one made in heaven, but neither was it an instance of cruelty by any stretch of the imagination. And I did not and do not have a pattern of involvement with abusive partners; indeed, for the past 22 years I have enjoyed a very happy and stable relationship with a compassionate and supportive man.

I had thought I had every reason to anticipate a happy and stable relationship in my erstwhile marriage as well. My ex-husband and I shared many cultural interests and were anticipating careers in the same field within the humanities, with similar pedigrees and similarly strong academic records. By chance my career, however, started more smoothly than his, despite his impressive credentials and abilities, indeed gifts. I finished graduate school a year before he did in the ‘70s — shortly after the precipitous decline in the job market -- and obtained a tenure-track appointment while he was completing his dissertation. We then moved for compelling personal reasons, and I was fortunate enough to find an academic position again, but he did not do so.

My ex-husband had slapped me once early in our marriage when, because I had not understood and hence had not followed his instructions during a household repair, a small amount of water fell on him. I was shocked, but I viewed the episode as an aberration. It was not.

That event suggests that the recurrence of such abuse cannot be wholly blamed on his not having a job. And after all, many unemployed people do not descend into such behavior, while many who are guilty of it hold stable jobs. Nonetheless, the timing persuades me that my ex-husband’s not obtaining the sort of position he had hoped for contributed significantly to the recurrence of wife-beating. For shortly after we had moved and I, but not he, held an academic appointment, physical abuse started again. He pinched, shoved, and hit me with some regularity over a period of about a year. Not by any means the most violent wife-beating, but quite enough, thank you, to leave significant black-and-blue marks on one occasion and less visible scars on the others. The physical abuse was accompanied by persistent belittling remarks. Throughout all this, my ex-husband continued to appear in public as a charming and highly educated gentleman and a courteous husband. I later learned that this Jekyll-Hyde scenario is a common symptom of pathologies like his.

Why did I put up with it? Barely able to believe that this was happening between people like us, I made excuses for him, justifying his behavior as a regrettable but understandable response to his unemployment, which was clearly all the more difficult for him because I had an attractive job in the same field. The contrast between his public and private behavior made it harder to confront the events squarely, as did the ways the situation sapped my own self-confidence. Like many victims of domestic abuse, I began to blame myself, not realizing that although I had made real mistakes, such as occasional tactless remarks, they neither explained nor justified this physical and emotional maltreatment.

Moreover, like many wife-beaters, he repeatedly seemed to repent. On the several occasions when I finally resolved to leave, he admitted that situations for which he had blamed only me were in fact in large measure his responsibility, and he promised to get therapy. These apparent reversals were, I was to discover, as much a pattern as the violence itself, and the therapy never materialized.

His career not only got back on track but flourished after that year of unemployment — a good though temporary job one year, a tenure-track job the next, the publication of a well-received book by a leading press, and so on. The physical abuse stopped shortly after he gained those academic positions, though the emotional analogues to it did not, and for that and many other reasons I finally, belatedly, got a divorce.

What I learned is relevant to anyone, man or woman, suffering domestic abuse.

Realizing that stressful circumstances outside the home -- and one's own behavior -- may have contributed to tension is a very different matter from excusing the behavior or shouldering all the responsibility oneself. Distinguish compassion from submission: it's healthy to understand the financial pressures that might bring out this type of violence in some individuals, but no one should accept its continuation. Be alert to connections between the physical and verbal, recognizing that physical abuse often merely goes into remission or resurfaces as verbal wife-beating. Apologies and promises need to be backed up with concrete and reliable evidence for believing that change will occur.

But one step must precede and accompany all of these: Avoid the temptation to excuse or deny the abuse by saying, "This isn't really occurring, and it will stop any minute because things like this don't happen to a professional couple like us." They can. They do. And, sadly, in this academic job market, they will.

 

The author of this piece, who asked to remain anonymous, is a tenured professor.

Editorial Tags: 

Academic Minute: Hummingbird Ancestor Discovered

In today’s Academic Minute, Daniel Ksepka of North Carolina State University describes the common ancestor of today’s swifts and hummingbirds. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

Ad keywords: 

Ball State Hires Key Figure in Intelligent Design

Ball State University has hired Guillermo Gonzalez -- a prominent figure in intelligent design -- as assistant professor in the department of physics and astronomy, The Star Press reported. Gonzalez was denied tenure at Iowa State University, where he said that he was being punished for his views, but his faculty colleagues said he was rejected based on traditional tenure criteria. A broad consensus exists among scientists that evolution, not intelligent design, explains the origins of the earth. And many scientists -- while having no problem with intelligent design as a focus in philosophy or religion classes -- object to science departments teaching it. Ball State is currently investigating a complaint that another faculty member in physics and astronomy was inserting religious, creationist views into a science course.

 

Ad keywords: 

A lawsuit filed against two labs founded by UT-Austin professor raises questions of conflict of interest and academic freedom

Smart Title: 

Eastman Chemical's lawsuit raises issues about academic and corporate research and conflicts of interest.

Academic Minute: What Does Average Mean?

In today’s Academic Minute, Andrew Juhl of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory explains why, when it comes to pollution, the extremes are more important than the mean. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Ad keywords: 

U. of Illinois Opposes Unionization Bid for High School Faculty

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  has filed an objection to a unionization bid by faculty members at the University Laboratory High School that the campus runs, The News-Gazette reported. The union organizers say that these faculty members are entitled to collective bargaining. But the university says that these teachers are part of a larger group of non-tenure-track faculty members at Urbana-Champaign, and that any consideration of a union should involve all such instructors, not just those at the high school.

Ad keywords: 

Essay on the importance of rejection to academic careers

Don't take it personally when a journal or publisher rejects your submission, writes Brian Martin. It's all part of the process.

Ad keywords: 
Editorial Tags: 
Show on Jobs site: 

Amid backlash, U. of Denver reconsiders how it will honor President George W. Bush

Smart Title: 

U. of Denver, facing protest from students and others, still plans to honor President George W. Bush, but perhaps not for "improving the human condition."

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - faculty
Back to Top