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December 12, 2010
My sister recently visited a physician in Manila who turned out to be a former undergraduate student of mine in Iloilo. Recognizing the common surname (Arcala), the doctor gushed about how I had tempted her to switch from a Biology major to a Political Science major, upon taking my General Education class in Social, Economic and Political Theory. To this day she remembers Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau and Marx and the engaging manner in which I embedded their ideas in their historical milieus.
December 12, 2010
It is typical at the end of both the fall and spring semesters that there are extra meetings as every committee and aspect of University governance does all it can to complete the semester’s agenda. And, of course, the tempo in courses is similar; as hard as we try to maintain an even pace in our courses, very often we accelerate at the end to cover all the material that should be covered.
December 12, 2010
I am enrolled in two singing classes. One I attend religiously; the other sporadically — it’s held at an awkward time, but it’s inexpensive and helpful, so my deal with the teacher (and myself) is that I pay the full tuition at the beginning of the semester and come when I can. A number of people in the class have similar arrangements. As a result, there are often people I don’t know in the class.Last week, I attended this class for the first time in nearly a month. There were two unfamiliar students among the regulars.
December 11, 2010
India faces a severe shortage of teaching staff as it rapidly expands it higher education system. At such top institutions as the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management, the generation of academics who matured with these schools is now retiring and there isn’t another cohort in the pipeline to take their places. Similarly, there are shortages of well-qualified staff in departments as most Indian universities responsible for graduate (post-graduate) degrees.
December 11, 2010
Soulful Russian folk songs would not have been out of place on our drive last week across the unending frozen landscape of the Midwest. My friend Mike Finke, a Slavic scholar, and I were headed for the 2010 International Chekhov Conference at The Ohio State University, after all.
December 9, 2010
The topic of this blog post comes naturally to me, as I sit surrounded by over 40 essays waiting for me to grade. 40 essays, each 8 pages long – you count how much text I must get through, and fast (as my deadline for delivering the final marks is approaching very soon). The immensity of the task makes me wonder what the purpose of this exercise is and which ways there are to best achieve this goal. And so, I find myself writing about grading.
December 9, 2010
Last week I heard a story on Marketplace that struck me as helpful in understanding the chronic shortage of tenure-track faculty jobs.It mentioned that a recent study found that over the last several years, there has been a net of zero job growth in companies five years old or older. All of the job growth – all of it – can be accounted for by startups. “Mature” industries don't power growth.And I thought, hmm.
December 9, 2010
The most important shift brought about by the Web has been to move more of us from being consumers to producers. The fact that you are reading this blog now, and maybe will comment on the post - or tweet or blog yourself, is testament to this fact. Distressingly, the practice of higher ed has largely lagged this transition - too little of our student's time is spent producing for the world (writing, making videos, posting and sharing) - and too much time is still spent consuming words from the mouths of our professors.
December 9, 2010
We've had a fair amount of snow in Backboro. Not an inordinate amount by any means (it is December, after all), but enough so that many of our students from warmer climes are going into shock. I heard one grad student, yesterday, complaining about how cold it was. When her companion responded that twenty above was by no means cold, I just chuckled to myself.
December 9, 2010
College presidents find themselves with long lists of cares and concerns, and I was prepared for the usual list: tuition discounting, economic challenges, deferred maintenance. But Web 2.0 flirting sites? I hadn't figured to spend much time in that arena. To their credit, Alma students came to me this week with concerns over Likealittle.com.

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