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March 5, 2009
Having dissed George Will, a conservative darling of the ostensibly liberal media, I want to balance the scales by dissing George Monbiot who's truly on the left. In general, I enjoy reading Monbiot. He's no Ida Tarbell but, with time, he might turn into Izzy Stone.
March 4, 2009
How is it possible that the comforter is warm, the blanket is warm, and the sheets are freezing? The sheets are under the blanket and comforter. Shouldn't they keep the sheets warm? I'm perplexed.A few days ago, some readers called me out on my claim that the average age of cc students is dropping. Apparently some national statistics suggest otherwise. I was surprised, since all of my counterparts across the state report the exact same thing I've seen. A quick search revealed a raft of different statistics, none of which were transparent about their methodology.
March 4, 2009
 I have vague memories of reading Seventeen magazine upstairs in my attic bedroom, alone and sequestered from my parents. Even though I was already enthralled with more ‘serious’ literature, I was never able to completely shun the cultural images that play on a young girl’s darker desires to be thin, mysterious and desirable. Brains are better than beauty, right?
March 4, 2009
I’m the best teacher who ever lived. Anyway I think that’s what the Provost said in the letter she sent to congratulate me for winning the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. I’m honored most by the fact that my former and present students generated and supported my nomination, and that I’ll be presented at a ceremony with a sack of money, which I hear will buy things.
March 3, 2009
Promoting sustainability at Greenback U. brings me into constant contact with both students and faculty. Each group has what I call its typical objection when presented with encouragement to behave more sustainably.
March 3, 2009
 The story in the Chronicle yesterday about California paying its community colleges in IOU's got me thinking about reserves, and the conflicting roles they play.In good years, some cc's are able to salt away some money and put it into reserves. (It's also commonly called a “rainy day fund.”) The idea is that public funding is notoriously and viciously cyclical, so having a pile of stray money can minimize the damage you have to endure in down cycles. Given how much of our budget is fixed cost, there's a real logic to this.But reserves are a tricky business.
March 2, 2009
 I read a piece in the Chronicle recently about learning to use unstructured time productively. Or, that’s what I thought it was about. As I read further, however, it seemed more to be about convincing people (and yourself) that you’re working when it doesn’t look like you are. That’s, of course, a very different animal, and one that academic mothers in particular may have trouble with.
March 2, 2009
A new correspondent writes:I've been doing some reading in economics lately and started wondering about higher education. What are the incentives to do administration well? Sure, there's personal satisfaction in a job well done. But what about it more broadly? How does change work into this? Without a simple goal like profit, I'm finding it hard to get even little service changes in administration. Maybe I'm simply not understanding the incentives at play? I understand (I think) the incentives at play for faculty and students, but what about administrators?
March 2, 2009
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to watch an old (old, old) movie -- Trouble in Paradise. It was released in 1932, and starred Herbert Marshall, Miriam Hopkins and Kay Francis. Particularly enjoyable to this Rocky & Bullwinkle fan were Edward Everett Horton and Charlie Ruggles in supporting roles. (If that reference doesn't make sense, you haven't watched "Fractured Fairy Tales" nearly enough. And a fairy tale is what this movie is, through and through.)

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