Foundation calls for statewide community college board in Massachusetts

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An influential foundation says Massachusetts' community colleges need to do better on workforce development, and calls for more direct oversight by the state.

Tea Party groups expect influence in elections for Michigan's public university governing boards

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Tea Party groups expect to influence statewide elections to pick new members of Michigan's higher education governing boards.

Feeling the Heat

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At a time community colleges are getting lots of attention, trustees share the scrutiny -- and experts wonder if they are all sufficiently prepared.

The Leadership Gap to Come

Richard A. Skinner offers advice to college and university board members on how they need to prepare.

A Faculty (Led) Search

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The University of Wisconsin System gives uncommon authority to professors in chancellor searches.

Freedom at a Price

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Ohio governor's plan to deregulate state universities could spark another round of divisive debates.

'The Fall of the Faculty'

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Faculty members feeling besieged by, well, take your pick -- increased scrutiny of their productivity and the relevance of their research; broadsides against tenure; attacks on their

'Congratulations, I Think'

I was elected president of our college's faculty senate last spring semester. One colleague’s response nicely captures the gist of the responses I received then:

"Congratulations, I think."

Others just gave me a look. Depending upon the cynicism index of the faculty member, it meant either "Fool!" or "Well done!"

Last Week's English Department Meeting


Minutes of the English Department Meeting, April 23, 2005

Meeting begins at 4:15 instead of 4:00 as scheduled because somebody forgot the keys to the faculty lounge. 

The chair, Professor Bigley, brings the meeting to order.

Professor Twistwhistle, our Renaissance scholar, remarks that today is Shakespeare’s birthday.

Question posed by Professor Durrell: Why do we have to attend these time-wasting meetings?
Seconded by Professor Aarondale.
Professor Bigley asks if this is an issue we intend to vote on.
Professor Durrell says something not worth repeating, then repeats it.

The chair brings the meeting to order again.

Main business:

Discussion of library subscription cuts: because of budgetary deficits, necessary to suspend at least a dozen periodicals.
Suggestions by Professor Smythe: Modern Philology, Ancient Philology and that semiotics journal requested by the assistant professor who left for Rutgers last year.
Professor Kzykak: Why keep up Pop. Cult. Review? Only idiots who can’t read like that journal.
Professor Smythe begs to differ.
Professor Kzykak: Beg all you want.
Professor Aaronson: What about Critical Inquiry or PMLA? General hilarity.
The chair brings the meeting to order again. Will put list of periodicals in faculty mailboxes, and please mark off 12.

New course proposal, put forth by Professor Smythe: English 3XX, Women and Vampires, cross-listed with Gender Studies.
Questions: Where is the reading list on the proposal? Why is there no final exam? What the hell has cultural studies done to academic standards, anyway? (Kzykak)
Professor Smythe begs to punch Professor Kzykak in the nose.
The chair brings the meeting to order again.
Vote taken. English 3XX defeated 6-4.

Professor Kzykak suggests we hire a bailiff for these meetings. Ms. Cunningham, our administrative assistant, comes in with Girl Scout thin mints left over from her daughter’s cookie drive. Five-minute time-out.

Professor Twistwhistle hints that today is somebody important’s birthday.

Report from Professor Bowdler for the committee on undergraduate electives. Professor Bowdler not present.
Need volunteer to act as judge for this year’s Quiz Bowl. Professor Bowdler elected in absentia by unanimous vote.

Proposal from the dean to establish a teaching-observation protocol.
Discussion of McCarthyism.
Professor Dale, our theory person, wishes to discuss the impossibility of objectivity.
Professor Aaronson: Right. You can’t judge my teaching. It’s too subjective.
Professor Smythe: Not any more than some anonymous clown in Kalamazoo assessing my research.
Professor Aaronson: Are you referring to—?
Professor Smythe: Yes, but never mind. Let’s keep my spouse’s unsuccessful promotion review out of it.
Professor Dale refers to the post-subjective subject.
Professor Aarondale: What about this [deleted] administration?
Delegate Professor Aarondale to draft counter-proposal for observation of dean’s office.

Not on agenda, but Professor Ernesto wants to talk about plagiarism in student papers. Floor open.
Questions: Is there really a problem here? (Smythe)
Professor Ernesto: What’s the percentage of student work that’s suspect? Really, that high? Why don’t we just castrate their damn laptops? That’s obviously where it’s coming from.
Professor Dale notes that the act of appropriation may sometimes be an homage.
Professor Ernesto grabs Professor Dale’s briefcase and shakes out all the papers. Yells, "This is an act of appropriation, not an homage!"
Professor Dale threatens to deconstruct Professor Ernesto.
The chair brings the meeting to order again. Directs task force of Professors Dale and Ernesto to look jointly into student plagiarism.

Professor Twistwhistle hums "Happy Birthday."

Brief ad hoc discussion of faculty retirement. Questions: What does it take to break tenure, anyway? Will the dean consider funding a new Renaissance line?

Meeting adjourned at 5:00, an enjoyable time had by all. Thank God the responsibility for taking down these minutes is rotating, and it’s Professor Aarondale next month. Hear that, Aarondale?

David Galef
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David Galef is a professor of English and administrator of the M.F.A. program in creative writing at the University of Mississippi. His latest book is the short story collection Laugh Track (2002).


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