All posts by Nels P. Highberg


The Matter of Faculty Salaries

Five Dollar Bill Last week, the Chronicle published a series of articles about faculty salaries (go to this page, and you will find a list of links to the series of articles on the topic).  I cringed when I saw them.  Initially, I just decided to ignore them and move on to the end-of-semester tasks needing my attention.  But the topic of faculty salaries kept needling at me, and I finally realized why.  Academics have long been talking about ways to represent the reality of life as a graduate student…


Graduating Seniors and Panic Attacks

Scream and Shout Last year, I wrote a short post about things we could do for graduating seniors.  That post was prompted by nothing other than the fact that it was graduation season, and many of my students were in the midst of a job hunt.  This year, I have noticed something else: graduating seniors having serious panic attacks.  I first noticed this a month or so ago when a good student missed class and told me later that they had taken a look at their calendar the night before and had such a seriou…


Writing Annual Reviews

calendar lights A few weeks ago, we received a comment on one of our open threads asking for advice on writing annual reviews, documents that come in all shapes and sizes and are done for a range of purposes.  Most of them are tied tightly to their particular institutional contexts, but a few general thoughts did come to my mind.

Know the purpose of your annual report. Reports can be used in different ways, and you should really know who will read yours and why.  Is your continued employment based on it…


Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone

The Street We’re at the point in the academic semester (and year) where a little bit of panic starts setting in for some people.  May is not all that far away, and a lot of us want to get a lot of things done in these next few weeks.  It is easy to fall into a pattern of rushing from one thing to the next, thinking two steps ahead when we are not even close to finishing what currently has our attention.  When things get like this for me, I find that the best way to respond is actually to shake my…


The Lady Gaga Divide: ProfHacker Edition

Video Game Poster A few weeks ago, Brainstorm, another blog on the Chronicle‘s blogroll, featured an article entitled “The Lady Gaga Divide” where Mark Bauerlein discusses his views of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” pondering what the video’s “gross disjunction of form and content does to the sensibilities of 18-year-olds.”  That post got me thinking about the pop culture tastes of students and how they enter the classroom.  Years ago in graduate school, I once heard a professor say that she listened to rap…


Plagiarism: An Administrator’s Perspective

BanksyYes, this is another post on plagiarism, which is a topic academics will continue discussing until it disappears (and how likely is that to happen?).  ProfHacker has had posts before on preventing plagiarism and responding to plagiarism, and I am sure we will have more posts following this one.  Today, I thought it might be useful to add some thoughts from my work as an administrator who has had to deal with a lot of plagiarism cases from across the university.  I certainly am not saying my th…


Encouraging Effective Note-Taking in Your Classes

Highlighting in a Book I often hear faculty complain about how students never take notes in class, often stating some version of “They just sit there.”  One time, I asked someone making such a complaint if they told their students why they should take notes in class.  This person looked back at me quizzically and said, “They should take notes because they have to!”

I did not say anything in response, but I was thinking, “Do they have to?  Do they know why they have to?”  When I look back over my own years as a…


The Worst-Case Scenario

A Bad Situation: SignageOne of the reasons I sought therapy a few years ago was because of my ability to hyperbolize any situation in my head to the point where anything could become a life-or-death situation. I needed the bi-weekly sessions to vent and get the silliness out of my head. At one point when I was discussing such a situation, my therapist asked me, “What is the worst thing that could logically and realistically happen?” Of course, the key words in his question were “logically” and “realistically.” I paused, thought for a moment, and told him what I thought. And you know what? The worst-case scenario was not that bad.

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Making Daydreams a Reality

Become Your Dream We all daydream.  Okay, that may not be true, but we all should daydream.  Sometimes, I look at the floor plans of five-bedroom condos in New York City and wonder how I would use the place if I won the lottery.  Or I look at the list of MacArthur Fellows and wonder how I would spend the $500,000 they get (and how certain people from my graduate school days would react if I won one).  As a teenager, I had my Oscar acceptance speech ready (for Best Original Screenplay, of course).  On bad…


You Earned It!

An AwardAt the end of last semester, I was sitting in my office as a lot of typical hustle-and-bustle took place outside.  While sitting there or walking the halls to class, my mailbox, or wherever, I heard snippets of conversations between faculty and students.  At various points, I heard different professors say things like, “On this paper, I gave you a B-” or “On the final, if I give you an A, your final grade still will not be higher than a C+.”  I did not think much of such comments until I …