Category Archives: Campus culture

by

Save the Academic Conference. It’s How Our Work Blossoms.

It’s fun to mock academic conferences. They are quite mockable, because academics are nerds. At our best, because we all know that we are nerds, we work hard but don’t take ourselves or our rituals too seriously.

And yet I was concerned when Christy Wampole, an assistant professor of French and Italian at Princeton, asked, in a widely shared essay in The New York Times, “What is the purpose of the conference?” Her purpose was to call for better behavior, promoting a manifesto of best practices (…

by

My Nomadic Class

My course this past semester began like so many others: 14 students and I arrived every Tuesday and Thursday morning in an uninspiring space of concrete-block walls and fluorescent lighting, with few windows and fixed desks all facing forward, ill suited to the discussion-based, flipped format of the class. So, a couple of weeks into the semester, we decided to go nomadic.

We had pedagogical reasons for doing so. The course focused on how the built environment both reflects and affects our ideas…

by

A Field Guide to American Higher-Ed Reformers

This short and easy-to-use field guide is designed to help both academics and lay audiences quickly identify some of the important species and subspecies that now occupy the higher-education landscape in the United States. Recognizing these various species, many of which are new to this environment, has become particularly important in this period of drastic university climate change and species migration.

1. Venture philanthropists and foundations

Species: Benevolentia disrumpo

Habitat/range: F…

by

Let This Satirical Campus Newspaper Live

In 2007, a group of students at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln fought to establish the first satirical newspaper on the campus. Eight years and nearly 70 issues later, the paper still hits the newsstand every other week. Recently, however, a committee charged with allocating student fees proposed defunding it — saving students a mere 15 cents annually — for the one reason that scares and baffles me the most. “While it does create a number of opportunities for students,” the commit…

by

Welcome to Ohio State, Where Everything Is for Sale

I’m excited to announce that my university has changed its motto. Out with the old and in with: “Omnia Venduntur!

Our old motto,Disciplina In Civitatem,” or “Education for Citizenship,” just sounded so, you know, land-granty, so civic-minded. It certainly doesn’t capture our new ethos of entrepreneurial dynamism and financial chicanery. Besides, the state legislature here, dominated for years now by the GOP, hasn’t been interested in either education or citizenship for a long time.

So instead…

by

The Professor as Comedian

“But, no jokes.”

Thus said my first, otherwise excellent, class performance-evaluation sheet. Just starting my undergraduate teaching career at twentysomething, I had been more concerned about the mastery of the subject (accounting), the fulfillment of class objectives, the clear delivery, the professional deportment. Check. Students’ opinions had been positive too: Their professor was “knowledgeable,” “helpful,” and “concerned with their learning.” Check. Overall remark from my el…

by

CUNY’s Pathway to Shared Governance

William Bowen and Eugene Tobin’s new book, Locus of Authority: The Evolution of Faculty Roles in the Governance of Higher Education, has resulted in much commentary and discussion about the appropriate roles of faculty members and administrators in the activities and governance of colleges. Let us assume that the goals of all concerned are the best possible education for students and the best possible environment for faculty scholarship and creative activity. What should faculty members be doin…

by

A Season of Anger

The last weeks of the fall semester were uneasy ones on many campuses as students angrily protested the police killings of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Tamir Rice. We can pretend that we didn’t really know what happened in these cases: parse the Ferguson, Mo., grand-jury testimony, ignore the video of Staten Island police taking Garner down in a choke hold, or speculate on what happened in the two seconds that elapsed between the arrival of police at a Cleveland playground and the shooting of…

Administrators, Authority, and Accountability

The battle over who should lead colleges and universities has been raging since the inception of higher education. It is most often, and stereotypically, cast as a fight between administrators and faculty members. Supposedly both interested in what students need, those parties are alternately said to be effective governors of higher education and major impediments to effective leadership.

On Monday, William Bowen and Eugene Tobin jumped into the fray with an excerpt from their new book, Locus of…

by

Academic Freedom and Repellent Speech

What are professors allowed to say? Where are we are allowed to say it?

Last week Deborah O’Connor, a senior lecturer at Florida State University, was pushed to resign after making racist and homophobic comments on a public Facebook page. She said some pretty horrible things, like blaming Europe’s troubles on “rodent Muslims.” She also told a well-known gay hairstylist to “Take your Northern fagoot [sic] elitism and shove it up your ass. ”

I am revolted by her remarks. However, I spent quite a l…