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May 15, 2011
I Quit.
May 15, 2011
Whenever I think of commencement, I always think of President Franklin Roosevelt’s speech making quote—“Be sincere, be brief, be seated.” For any and all speakers at a commencement, there needs to be a realization that this is the graduates’ special moment. The time should not be filled by long speeches, by overly technical speeches, by politically divisive speeches, or by crude humor. And having gone – to date – to approximately 200 commencement ceremonies, I have experienced all of the above (thankfully, very rarely) as well as many commencements that were virtually perfect.
May 15, 2011
I enjoyed both Dana's and Elizabeth's posts on their typical daily activities. I particularly appreciated Elizabeth's enumeration of the ways both she and her students postpone unpleasant tasks throughout the semester and must now work on overdrive to keep from drowning. It brought back fond(ish) memories of my own student years, and also made me feel a bit better about what is going on in our household now.
May 14, 2011
Tim Peters, who graduated from here a couple of years ago, was a philosophy major, as I recall. When he took one of my classes I saw instantly he could also write like hell.
May 13, 2011
Normally, I hate plastic. I hate it for how it's made. I hate it for how it feels. I hate it for how it promotes planned obsolescence. I hate it for how it (when used synechdocically) encourages consumerism and masks the effects of the bowling-pin economy that's becoming the norm. (Bowling-pin -- small on top, not much in the middle, a whole lot at the bottom.)But this time I'm going to make an exception. For today (and today only), I'm singing the praises of the worst form of plastic -- a credit card.
May 12, 2011
At one of my first gatherings as a new faculty member at my current institution, I sat around a table of men and women from different campus units to discuss a common concern—communicating with students. I was stunned to note the mostly silent women—even high-ranking university administrators—among men of lower rank and less experience who spoke often and forcefully. These men often said quite smart and interesting things, agreeing with each other on many issues. When the women did speak, they often did so meekly, almost apologetically—and were often ignored.
May 12, 2011
A new correspondent writes:A friend of mine works at a different college than me. She is not tenured (she is in a position that is not currently tenure-track, but may turn into one). Students have told her that the chair of her dept. has made them uncomfortable on multiple occasions--inappropriate physical contact, pressuring to sign up for his courses. My friend has tried to bring this up to the dean but apparently the dean is protective of him and refuses to do anything about it. I think students have also approached the dean about the situation.
May 12, 2011
An article in last week’s Inside Higher Ed discussed the option of teaching at a religiously affiliated college. It caught my attention since I am in my 42nd year of religiously-affiliated education. I went to Catholic grammar school, Catholic high school and college and then even earned my Ph.D. at a Catholic University.
May 12, 2011
My gut reaction is that Microsoft's $8.5 billion purchase of Skype is a good thing for higher ed, and probably a smart move on Microsoft's part. I'm betting that you are critical of this acquisition, and worried if the free (or very cheap) Skype that you rely on so much will change or go away. I think Microsoft would be nuts to mess too much with the goodness of Skype, as Skype's large installed user base is more valuable than its technology.
May 11, 2011
What should a college do when the two members of a two-person department are locked in a feud?Feuds can be toxic enough in larger departments, but there, a one-on-one battle can usually be subsumed under larger numbers. Department meetings may be uncomfortable, but the program can usually remain relatively unscathed.But when the entire department is two people, drowning out the conflict just isn’t an option.

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