Author Archives: Lesboprof

December 16, 2011, 4:12 pm

Random thoughts at the end of the semester

I have tried to write this blog entry at least three times. One problem is that my first version was waaaayyy too revealing about personal stuff going on in my life. While I used to do that in my original blog, which I used to process feelings and challenges as I was trying to get pregnant during my first administrative job, I eliminated the old personal stuff when I flipped to the Chronicle blog and I have avoided anything that would be personally or professionally problematic for me if I decided to stop blogging under the pseudonym. So, with that filter on my personal and professional lives, I can’t seem to figure out one focus for a blog entry. Rather than letting another week slip by, then, I am posting a gathering of random thoughts.

  • Why does every school that is interviewing faculty in the Midwest, deep South, the rural North, and Southeast refer to itself as in “the buckle of …

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December 4, 2011, 10:01 pm

Our students as inspiration

We professors take our classes seriously. We want students to do the reading, to come to class prepared, to engage with the texts and the problems we set before them, and to rise to the challenge of thinking critically and learning. When students fail to meet these expectations, professors often become frustrated, angry, and sometimes even hurt by what we can perceive as our students’ disregard. We may blame the students, castigate them as lazy or lacking commitment, and even rebuke the students. I have felt this myself. Every once in a while, I get to feeling grumpy because a student has written an annoying email, said something disrespectful, or blown off class for the third time with a lame excuse.

When that happens, I remind myself that students have complicated lives. The little slice of their lives I see in my classes fails to reveal most of what is going on for the student…

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November 28, 2011, 5:59 am

You’re (almost) out(ta here)!

One of my all-time favorite movies is Bull Durham. I would argue that it is a great movie for university administrators. While most people remember the film for Crash’s romance with community college instructor Annie (which offers the takeaway lesson that all professional athletes just need to find a sexy faculty member), academic administrators can appreciate the challenges the team and its leaders face over the course of the season. There are any number of leadership moments: settling arguments among players, inspiring the team, having to let players go, dealing with burnout (no video, but they stage a “rainout” with sprinklers to get a day off), and coping with burgeoning crises.** The movie also highlights the shifting tempo of the baseball season, which reminds me of the rhythm of university life, where stresses wax and wane over the academic year.

I was reminded of these shifts …

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November 17, 2011, 8:25 am

The art and science of academic self-promotion

I was joking with academic friends a few nights ago about another friend who is something of a shameless self-promoter. When something good happens in his life, like an award or grant, he begins a round of promotion of this achievement that  begins on his  Facebook page and doesn’t stop until everyone has acknowledged it: the local newspaper, organizations of which he is a member, his blog, friends’ blogs and FB pages, the university newspaper and media center (including website), etc. If he hasn’t received appropriate acknowledgement, he might send it again. They laughed that he recently skipped an award ceremony because not enough people were going to see him accept the award.

I understand the criticism. No one wants to be around a person who is just interested in their own lives. There is something in academe, though, that requires a good bit of self-promotion. It starts when you…

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November 9, 2011, 7:07 am

Suffer and permit

I know everyone has to have a take on the story of the multiple child rapes, and the cover ups, occurring for years on the Penn State campus, but so far, the higher education venues have been lacking. Inside Higher Ed’s focus on handling the media crisis is just plain weak, and I am usually an IHE fan. Even the Chronicle has looked for more oblique stories: “how is the campus handling thisthe student protestthe board statement…” This is a truly disgusting story of people on a campus ignoring repeated evidence, sometimes happening RIGHT IN FRONT OF EMPLOYEES. Only Chronicle bloggers get the story, like Michele Goodwin of Brainstorm directly takes on the campus administration’s priorities in dealing with this matter or Chronicle editorial writer Molly Yanity’s critique of the initial failure of ESPN and other sports writers to see the gravity of the story.

If you read the

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November 4, 2011, 5:47 pm

Finding the fit

It is hiring time again, and I am right in the thick of it. I am on one external search committee (senior hire), we are hiring in our department, and I am serving as a reference for several colleagues. All of this has me thinking about the concept of the “fit” between a department and a candidate/new hire.

Back in July, ProfHacker did a post asking people to define “fit.” One thing was clear: the concept of fit was nebulous. Some people used it to discuss whether a new hire fit with the established department, whereas others discussed which potential institution would be the best fit from the perspective of someone on the market. Others discussed fit as the balance between the two perspectives. Many commenters discussed how a department’s concept of a new hire as a poor fit was (a) the product of small departmental minds and (b) another way to discuss a lack of collegiality, perhaps…

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October 22, 2011, 7:36 pm

Getting out of the office

When I was a faculty member at previous R1 institutions, I went to campus 2-3 days a week. I spent the rest of my time working at home. When I was on campus, I often visited with colleagues and friends across campus between meetings, office hours, and classes. I relished the flexibility of faculty life. My first administrative/faculty job was a part-time admin gig, though I often was on campus 4-5 days a week to meet with students, faculty, and staff as needed. But I started my days late, and I left when I wanted to leave. It was nothing close to a 9-5 gig.

One of the side effects of this new 12 month, 9-whatever, administrative position is that I have to remind myself to take breaks. I go from task to task, meeting to meeting, and time just passes by in a blur. Open times are usually interrupted by “could I have a minute” conversations with faculty, staff, and students who poke their…

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October 17, 2011, 6:00 am

Sitting on the other side of the desk

The hiring season is upon us. I am serving as an outside member on a search committee (senior hire), our department is hiring faculty and staff members, and I am serving as a reference for friends and former students on the academic market. None of these roles is especially new, but, for the first time, I am the administrator of a unit doing searches.

There have been some very new experiences in conducting hires as the senior administrator. The first big experience was negotiating the areas of need with the faculty. While I had to facilitate the discussion, I also had my own ideas and interests. I know from prior experiences on search committees that these meetings can be full of conflict when the Dean or Chair disagrees with faculty about the direction of the program.I put my own ideas aside and led the discussion, drawing out the suggestions of faculty. I found the faculty…

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October 8, 2011, 11:49 am

A new proposal for training higher ed administrators

Okay, so I am going to do something I never do: share a dream. I am sharing the dream I had last night because it offers a strange, yet compelling idea for continuing education for administrators in higher education. And yes, I will admit that it is clearly proof of my being an academic management nerd of the highest order to dream about continuing education. Or, according to the dream dictionary online, I could be dreaming of training because I lack confidence, have anxieties about my abilities, or want to change my status in life… Nah, my dreams are usually more literal than that. I just came up with a good training idea.

Most everyone in higher education administration knows about the big training venues for continuing education. Harvard offers their Institutes for Higher Education (HIHE) for new managers, upper administration officials, and new Presidents and Chancellors, along …

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October 2, 2011, 11:53 pm

Assessment in higher education: On the train or under it

Collecting Data

Would that collecting data was as fun as collecting butterflies...

For those of you who are responsible for collecting data for outside accrediting bodies, I would like to invite you to join in on a moment of bitching whining reflection.  For those of you faculty and administrators who don’t have primary responsibility for evaluating our work with students, our new programs, our curricula, and our productivity, you might as well read the following as an educational piece, because you won’t be able to avoid the assessment process much longer.

We know the public has long had a distrust of higher education, thinking we were mainly pointy-headed, poorly-dressed, over-educated, socially-awkward types who earn too much money to do too little work: teaching students and conducting research. This trend has…

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