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August 21, 2008 - 4:59am
Yesterday I met with the new chair of my department to tie up loose ends, hand over some paperwork, and give him whatever advice I could. I felt a bit like I do when I leave town and my husband takes care of our daughter: part of me hopes it goes well, but a selfish part of me hopes something goes wrong so he will see how hard it is. Like parenting, it is hard to really prepare someone for what’s involved in chairing a department. Neither endeavor looks that taxing on paper.
August 21, 2008 - 4:57am
With classes starting any minute now – I can see the dorsal fin in the water – the folks in Student Services are working full-tilt. They're trying to get everybody registered, to deal with all the financial aid paperwork, and to get all the details under control before the start of classes. That's fairly standard. What I didn't really appreciate until a passing comment today was how much of the late crush is due to the 'safety school' phenomenon.
August 20, 2008 - 7:37pm
When I think about information, I usually think about it at rest. Kind of like, when I think about water, the image of a lake or an ocean pops into mind before the image of a river. Maybe that's largely a function of where I've lived, but it's also about how many of us on the wonky side learn and think -- combining and recombining bits of data from various sources, trying to form a comprehensive understanding. "Information", then, is the material of which a stable (if only temporarily) understanding is formed.
August 19, 2008 - 9:56pm
Dear Editors of Money, This one has been making the rounds on campus. The September issue of Money magazine features an article by Penelope Wang entitled "Is College Still Worth the Price?" (I haven't been able to find it online.) It features the obligatory references to Vassar, climbing walls, arms races, the Chivas Regal effect, and superstar professors. It's intended to motivate parents to subject the pricey colleges and universities to cost-benefit analyses, and it could easily have been written ten years ago. But it also contains a memorable howler:
August 19, 2008 - 5:10pm
OK, so it's not technically a secret. But, if your college or university is located in (or even somewhat near) the northeast quadrant of the USA, it could be the best higher education sustainability conference you've never heard of. The Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium puts on a two-day conference every October. This year's conference is at Princeton, on October 27-28. (The schedule for both days is pretty full, so you might want to travel on the 26th and/or the 29th.)
August 18, 2008 - 9:13pm
Last week I was in a meeting with the college controller – the money guy – who mentioned that this July's gas and electric bill for the college was forty percent higher than last July's. (And this isn't one of the really huge cc's, either.) Over the course of a year, that's roughly half a million dollars extra on what, in the short term, is really a non-optional expense. Ouch.
August 18, 2008 - 8:59pm
So the bathroom floor doesn't need replacing after all; instead, we need a termite guy. It may be more expensive than replacing the floor, but it will be less disruptive, so all in all I'm not too disappointed.
August 18, 2008 - 4:19pm
Higher education is all about information -- parsing it, passing judgment on it, and passing it on. Sustainability work is largely about keeping up with information -- with a problem complex enough to encompass the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the socio-sphere, new knowledge emerges daily and anyone's understanding is always incomplete. If you have to combine the two (as any university sustainability administrator must), a high tolerance for complexity is critical. Unfortunately, this same tolerance for complexity can lead us to over-think and over-explain.
August 17, 2008 - 9:31pm
A few months ago, I just broke up with my ex. We have a child together...a 3 year old. The hard thing for me is juggling between raising my child and going to graduate school full time. I am just so busy, and I feel as if I am not spending enough time with my son. Do you have any tips for me?

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