OTHER RECENT ARTICLES

academic programs May 16

Weight Management for Universities: Evaluating Academic Bloat

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Historically, new academic programs have often been introduced by several mechanisms. An energetic faculty member is inspired to create a new major, a donor bequest stipulates the development of an interdisciplinary institute, a president mandates a “visionary” curriculum, or a dean or provost responds to a sudden market opportunity.


development May 14

“But I Hate Asking for Money”: Development Tips for Academic Administrators

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Despite the widespread expectation that academic leaders participate in fundraising at their institutions, many administrators feel poorly prepared for development work. After all, they rose to their positions because of their success as teachers and scholars, their record of good management skills, and their ability to mix attention to details with an appreciation for the “big picture” of an institution’s needs. Is there any way, then, to make this activity less unpalatable for people who don’t enjoy development activities? What do you need to know about fundraising if the idea of asking people for money makes you nervous or uncomfortable?


capstone course May 7

Can a Capstone Course Try to Accomplish Too Much?

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Kristi Upson-Saia thinks it can, and she has data from one field that supports her belief. When her religious studies department (at Occidental College) decided to reassess its capstone course, Upson-Saia looked for relevant publications in her field. Finding few, she began collecting data from other religious studies departments. She asked those departments to explain their course objectives and share capstone materials such as guidelines, checklists, websites, and syllabi. Her analysis of religious study capstones includes data from 29 different programs, and what she found is typical of the descriptive analysis of capstones completed in several other fields. The courses have different objectives, they address content in different ways, and students complete a variety of assignments, although most involve the application of research skills used in the field.


commencement speech May 4

My Last Commencement Speech

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In 2007, professor Randy Pausch presented what he titled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” in the “My Last Lecture” series at his university, Carnegie Mellon. He had been diagnosed with terminal cancer only a month earlier and had only a few more months to live. With amazing optimism and energy, he gave this lecture to focus on what had been most important in his life: his dreams and his satisfying hard work. He wanted to inform and inspire his students and colleagues so they too would continue to dream and work to find joy in life. His inspirational message led many colleges and universities to establish “My Last Lecture” series to give faculty opportunities to follow Pausch’s example and develop a lecture that summed up the best of their academic careers and the most important things they had learned about life.


guns on college campuses May 2

Guns on College Campuses – Not A Good Idea!

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It is hard to believe that the Columbine High School shooting was 19 years ago. The actions of the two suburban Colorado high school seniors who went on a shooting spree killing 13 people and wounding over 20 others before taking their own lives should have been a clarion call for common sense gun control. Sadly, the nation would hear the same refrain in 2012 in the bucolic Connecticut town of Newtown at the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, where the 20-year-old gunman shot and killed 20 six- and seven-year-old children and six adult staff members before killing himself.


college professors April 30

Red America, Blue America: A Country (Campus) Very Much Divided

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Disclosing that I am a college professor conjures up its own set of stereotypes. While it is true that there has been an upward trend of liberal college professors on our nation’s campuses, especially in the social sciences, it is important not to paint all with the same brush. Just as there are different types of conservatives (e.g., fiscal, social, etc.) the same could be said for liberals. Pigeonholing anyone without truly getting to know him or her, based merely upon profession, outward appearance, or car choice, is not constructive to our civil discourse. The same also applies to passing judgment based upon someone’s choice of candidate in the last presidential election.


failing gracefully April 27

Failing Gracefully

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Make no mistake about it: If you serve long enough as a university administrator, sooner or later you will fail at something—massively, undeniably, and embarrassingly. Either the result that you intended from an initiative never came close to being achieved, or you’ll have a new supervisor who feels you’ve wasted your time pursuing X when you should’ve been pursuing Y, or you’ll charge off in a bold new direction only to discover than no one is interested in following your lead. Never having a failure isn’t really an indication that you’ve done everything successfully; it’s more likely an indication that you haven’t been trying enough new ideas or endeavors. Certainly, you can fail by attempting to do too little rather than too much. But to fail miserably … that usually entails the launching of a new, albeit ill-advised enterprise.