Humor/whimsy

College issues annual list of words to ban

Lake Superior State issues annual list of words to avoid.

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Colleges offer greetings (and a crossword puzzle) for the holidays

Colleges send messages (and humor) to their friends.

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Colleges and universities have perhaps more than their fair share of ghost sightings

Colleges and universities have perhaps more than their fair share of ghost sightings.

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A tongue-in-cheek announcement of a new portal where faculty members can rate their students (opinion)

What better place to learn more about one’s students, John Mark McFadden asks, than a portal filled with ratings of students by teachers and professors?

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A poetic look at students in this fall's classes (opinion)

David Galef offers a poetic take on the current crop of students in his classes.

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A satirical look at faculty orientation (opinion)

 

2019 Orientation Day for New and Returning Faculty
Sturfrei-Wesleyan College
Tupper Lake, N.Y.

 

8:30 a.m. Presidential address:
Tomorrow Is Our Future
9:15 a.m. Teaching workshop No. 1:
He/She/They/Us/You/Ewe/Oy/Vey: Honoring Preferred Gender Pronouns in Class
(Mandatory for faculty members over 50)
10:15 a.m. Provost’s address:
Living in a Posttenure World: Applying Uber/Lyft Paradigms to Contingent Faculty
11:00 a.m. First all-faculty assembly of the 2019-20 academic year:
Annual Vote of No Confidence in the President and Provost
11:05 a.m. Review of budget cuts and faculty search cancellations by the chief financial officer
11:30 a.m. Teaching workshop No. 2:
(Choose one)
• New Developments in Clicker Design: Press vs. Swipe
• Interpreting Clicker Data That Have Been Butt-Dialed
12:15 p.m. Winners of the parking lottery are announced: Find out if you can bring your car to campus this year!
12:30 p.m. Lunch on the quad, featuring a drone fly-over presented by the Hi-Skyers Student Aviation Club
Meal provided by the hospitality program’s cuisine team
Menu theme: A World of Many Flavors
• Chicken Nuggets Italiano
• Mesquite Nuggets
• Pad Thai Nuggets
• Po’ Boy Nugget Sandwich
• Nugget Schnitzel
• Cheezy Nuggets
• Nuggets de Français avec Pommes Frites
1:30 p.m. Meet SWC’s new tenure-track faculty member!
• Todd Fleth, assistant professor of e-sports
1:45 p.m. Electronic introduction of new adjunct faculty
(Names and photos will scroll on the Jumbotron in Burning Man Stadium until 5:30 p.m.)
2:00 p.m. Board of Trustees panel discussion:
Emerging Models of Faculty-Free Higher Education
3:00 p.m. Introduction of SWC’s Screaming Algae varsity football team
(Faculty should arrive by 2:50 p.m. at Burning Man Stadium and form two parallel lines for the Column of Welcome)
3:15 p.m. Announcement by provost of academic programs/majors to be phased out this semester (Sorry for the late notice.)
4:15 p.m. Teaching workshop No. 3:
Advances in Multiple-Choice Question Construction: Moving From Four Choices to Five
(Interactive session: Please bring a question with you.)
5:00 p.m. Annual running of the deans on the campus quad (Pick the winner and you could go home with a free iPad!)
5:30 p.m. Final words from the president:
The Future: Really, It Starts Tomorrow!
5:45 p.m. Closing ceremony: SWC’s student chorale, The Screechers, performs its signature medley, “From Bach to Beyoncé,” accompanied by the SWC marching band’s Twerk Squad.
6:30 p.m. Bonfire on the quad, fueled by hard-copy journals and master’s theses discarded by the library. Spouses and significant others are invited. Free beer and nuggets for all!
8:30 p.m. Movie night on the quad: Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939)
10:30 p.m. Postmovie conversation with a distinguished panel of male emeritus faculty members
Topic: Oh, What a Time It Was!

Michael Morris is professor emeritus of psychology at the University of New Haven.

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A tongue-in-cheek look at university service (opinion)

At U of All People, we pride ourselves on service. After all, we’re not the kind of institution that’s ever going to be known as a research institution. Our idea of publication is blogging for a friend (that does count, right?).

Unlike the small, elite liberal arts colleges that promise excellent teaching, our course evaluations are underwhelming (“Professor Beekman is a little shy,” wrote one student about a public speaking class. “Was he the guy up front?”) And since no one in academe really knows what service is (chairing the Committee on Committees? Faculty adviser to the Taekwondo and Anime Club?), we’ve decided to trumpet U of All People as “the university with no service charge.” (Maybe PR can massage that phrase when we’re ready to slap up something new on our website, which hasn’t changed since the last comp sci student graduated in 2007, and it’s covered with scrolling text auto music.)

Our provost, Dr. Watt Tchaganadou, recently sent a memo to all faculty members, asking us to list our service since the start of this academic year. That way, he emphasized with several incomprehensible emoji, the university community and beyond will know about all the hard work we do behind the scenes. “You are the unstrung heroes of our institution,” he wrote on autocorrect. “Tell us five things you’ve done to make U of All People a grate pubic universally!” “Thank you for your service,” he ended, prompting a reaction from ROTC, which has since dropped the siege barricade around his office.

The memo spurred all of us less distinguished service givers to come up with creative ways to massage the data. Professor Libby Artz in the newly merged department of sociology, anthropology, religious philosophy and modern languages compiled this list:

  • Spent five minutes every morning at the entrance to Damthem Hall. (The left door sticks, and I know how to give it a zetz that pops it right open -- students appreciate that!)
  • Fixed the coffeemaker in the faculty lounge so that it emits coffee rather than a death rattle.
  • Bought a new carton of dry‑erase markers and left it open in the department mail room -- all gone by noon.
  • Volunteered to serve as assistant underwater volleyball coach, though the swimming pool at the rec center was long ago turned into a snack bar.
  • Redesigned my office door so that it no longer sports the line “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!” but instead reads, “Thou follow me, and I will be thy guide.”

Professor Al Phaziro in computer science wrote:

  • Responded to all 12,500 emails in my in-box, some dating back to 2010, including urgent messages about curing baldness and money from Nigeria.
  • Helped streamline the U of All People landing page so that it loads in under five minutes.
  • Agreed to run a Monday morning workshop on how to coordinate the Canvas course-management system with the rest of the world.
  • Will donate to the charity Disconnected Youth all the cellphones I’ve confiscated in class.
  • May show up at commencement for the first time in 20 years, at least as an avatar.

Meanwhile, Professor P. Dantic is trying to set an example for the entire English department:

  • Have offered to correct the writing style of my colleagues on numerous occasions, including “being that” and “hopefully.”
  • Nominated myself for deputy chair of the physics department to demonstrate interdisciplinarity.
  • Will serve as faculty adviser to the Drama Club, at least until my niece plays the role of Desdemona in the spring Shakespeare production.
  • Have agreed to: 1) post office hours on my office door and 2) show up for at least half of them.
  • Working on the fifth item.

Cherry-picked anecdotal evidence shows that our strategy is working. BuzzFeed recently included us in a list of “10 Universities That Are Trying To Make a Difference (No. 8 Will Blow Your Mind!)” though our new slogan appeared as “Service with a smell!” (Professor Al Phaziro is working with Dr. Watt Tchaganadou on his autocorrect.)

David Galef directs the creative writing program at Montclair State University. His latest book is Brevity: A Flash Fiction Handbook, from Columbia University Press.

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The modern German university is satirized in film

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At a fictional institution, officials obsess over assessments of research quality, pander to donors and equate educating students with job training.

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A roundup of holiday videos from colleges and universities

Humor, snow (natural and otherwise) and animals make appearances in holiday videos.

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A Gilbert and Sullivan take on academe (opinon)

I am the very model of a pundit academical,

I've idées fixes artistic, scientific, and political;

I’ve a hundred ways to call the admin highly hypocritical,

And sometimes it’s in phrasing that descends to the emetical;

I'm very well acquainted too with matters pedagogical,

Which I pronounce on in a tone that's truly theological,

About research esoteric I am tweeting with so much abuse,

Although the second reader called my book proposal too diffuse! 

 

I'm very good at clickbait that's superbly supercilious,

I know exactly just the thing to make my colleagues bilious,

In short, in fields artistic, scientific, and political,

I am the very model of a pundit academical.

 

I know our storied theorists, from Cleanth Brooks to Jakobson,

I lecture long on p-hacking, I deconstruct the Higgs boson,

I’ve versified Greenblatt's The Swerve in macaronics magnifiques,

And always sign off Facebook with a pithy rhyme from Kant’s Critique;

I can tell Baudrillard from Wittgenstein and H. Cixous from F.  Tönnies,

I sneer at frauds while hyping my unpublishable masterpiece,

Then I can pitch a hot take on something I’ve not read before,

And if no-one will run it, well that’s what my dormant blog is for!

Then I can speak of budgets in a manner tropological,

And turn the latest scandal into something anagogical;

In short, in fields scientific, artistic and political

I am the very model of a pundit academical.

 

In fact, when I know what's meant by “committee work” and “overload”;

When I can tell at sight a learning outcome from an add/drop code;

When such affairs as meetings and advisement I’m more present at,

And when I know a mortarboard and tassel from a bowler hat;

When I can name five colleges whose halls are hardly ivy-decked,

When I can update Blackboard without losing all my self-respect,

In short, when I get that scholars unlike me are really not suspect,

You’ll say a pundit academic’s never been so ego-checked!

For though the language in my op-eds is particularly visceral,

I fear (alas) my wisdom’s proving eerily ephemeral,

But still, in fields artistic, scientific, and political,

I am the very model of a pundit academical.

Miriam Elizabeth Burstein is professor of English at the College of Brockport of the State University of New York. She was first exposed to academic pundits nearly 30 years ago, which has not stopped her from falling into some of the same habits herself. You can find more of her work at her website, The Little Professor, where an earlier version of these lyrics appeared.

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