Author Archives: Claire Potter

March 26, 2014, 11:55 am

Should Academic Online Behavior Go to Court?

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Imagine if Daffy Duck had email, Twitter and Facebook.

Here’s an interesting case that has been percolating along for some time and should be of interest to all of us in the academic blogosphere. Raphael Haim Gold, 54, who is the son of Norman Golb, as New York Times reporter John Leland puts it, “a controversial Dead Sea Scrolls scholar,” has been successfully prosecuted for impersonating and harassing other scholars who have found fault with his father’s scholarship. The conviction is now being heard on appeal.

For reasons that remain somewhat mysterious, Golb Junior defamed his father’s intellectual detractors for three years via various forms of Sock Puppetry and Internet impersonation.  As Leland writes:

Mr. Golb’s online campaign was chiefly directed at his father’s most bitter rival, Lawrence H….

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March 25, 2014, 1:45 pm

Why the Adjunct System Hurts Students

tee-rhrI left Zenith University a little over two years ago, but every once in a while one of my former students hunts me down for a recommendation. Fortunately, I actually kept a lot of those letters I wrote, so in most cases it doesn’t take more than a nip and a tuck to bring one up to speed: “Since graduating with high honors in history, Jason has worked for SEIU and interned at the Smithsonian…..) I don’t mind, even though I now have new students to write for. Zenith paid me well over the years (ok, not always as well as I wanted, but still.) I think writing recommendations for former students is part of some cosmic bargain hammered out over twenty years of tears and snot, to paraphrase Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes speech, even though I now work somewhere else.

But if I had been an adjunct there? No way. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who taught at Zenith — as a post-doc…

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March 18, 2014, 12:19 pm

Random Bullets of Academia: Tuesday Edition

jackofalltradesHistorians – are you sick of  adjuncting? Consider the highly-paid world of finance! In Perspectives on History, Chris McNickle talks about putting his history Ph.D. to use as the global head of institutional business for Fidelity Worldwide Investment. As it turns out, the savvy investor wants to know what things change over time; why bad things happen; and what might happen in the future. Doing this properly all requires research, evidence and argument, not to mention an understanding of the conditions under which the economy has flourished and crashed in the past.

I am really starting to like this monthly feature. It leads by example, and demonstrates a reform that all graduate programs might make without hiring another faculty member or making a single curricular change: just put on your department web page what your non-academic degree holders are doing.

(Adjuncting, by the…

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March 11, 2014, 10:15 am

Oh Brave New World

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Have administrators at Columbia’s Mailman School considered closing their budget gap with a bake sale? Maybe asking faculty to shill gift wrap and ginormous candy bars door to door?

That has such people in it.

Here’s a novel way to lighten the burden of paying faculty salaries: make them figure out how to pay their own salaries! As Inside Higher Ed reports, Columbia University has notified several longterm non-tenure stream faculty in the Mailman School of Public Health (including Carol Vance and Kim Hopper) that they will be terminated for not meeting 80% of their salaries with outside funding.

According to CNNMoney.com, in 2013 the university had the ninth largest endowment in the United States, at $8.197 billion dollars.

Read the article: I could only garble this story more by trying to recapitulate it….

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March 10, 2014, 10:55 am

Why Charter Schools Should Pay Rent — or Close

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It’s a “free” market system, children: that’s why our exclusive charter school gets space from New York City for free!

Here are two stories about education, both printed this week in the New York Times. I would like to put side by side because together they tell a bigger story about urban public schools than they do separately.

The first describes Mayor Bill De Blasio’s plan to charge rent to privately funded charter schools. As the story explains, charters divert public tax money into schools; and they cream the students they want and reject students that are difficult to teach. They also gobble up space in school buildings that the Board of Ed decides existing schools either don’t need, or don’t need exclusive access to: gymnasiums, libraries, playgrounds, and cafeterias.

Furthermore, charters create…

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March 7, 2014, 5:06 pm

Dept. of Untenured Radicals: Santa Cruz Students on the March

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Photo credit: Indybay.org/

Beginning at 3:00 Pacific Time on Wednesday March 5, students at UC Santa Cruz occupied an administration building. When they left the following morning, under their own steam, they chanted “We’ll Be Back!” They probably will: they’ve done it before. Good for you, young people: I thought it was creepy to put someone whose specialty is Homeland Security and border control in charge of a school system too.

Here’s what they want:

1. We demand the resignation or impeachment of Janet Napolitano as
UC President immediately.

2. We demand that next and all future UC presidents be someone who:

a) is elected by students and faculty;
b) has an extensive and positive background in education;
c) works towards completely eliminating student debt through
full subsidization;
d)…

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February 28, 2014, 11:05 am

Because the NY Times Can’t Print Everything….

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This cover illustration from 1867 was titled: “The First Vote.”

….sometimes Tenured Radical steps in.

On January 31, 2014, Columbia University’s Eric Foner reviewed a new book on Reconstruction by Douglas Egerton. The review elicited this response from Bonnie S. Anderson, professor emerita in history at Brooklyn College. Anderson is the author of many influential books and articles in European women’s history, including the two-volume A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present (Oxford University Press, 1999), co-written with Judith P. Zinsser. She writes:

It depressed me to see the generally enlightened historian Eric Foner perpetuate the Reconstruction era’s erasure of women in his review of Douglas Egerton’s The Wars of Reconstruction (Bloomsbury: 2014.) Foner asserts…

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February 27, 2014, 12:11 pm

Happiness is a Cold, Plastic Doll: the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

rs_634x845-140213110818-634.sports-illustrated-barbie-swimsuit-021314It’s that time of year again: shaved pubes, barely (or not at all) hidden nipples, salt-stiffened wind-blown hair, pouty lips — that’s right, it’s the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, now celebrating its 50th Anniversary. And Barbie is on the cover.

I never knew about this phenomenon until I went to college (that would be Yale University, winter 1977.) All of a sudden, one day in the dining hall, there were gaggles of young men reading the thing (reading would be one way of putting it, I guess.) Women were supposed to pretend that a tits and ass festival was all in good fun, just like they were the following year when Playboy showed up to shoot “Girls of the Ivy League.”

My initial response upon seeing the Swimsuit Issue for the first time was puzzlement. I had no brothers, I went to an all-girls secondary school — so I had never seen one and couldn’t figure out the genre….

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February 21, 2014, 11:15 am

It’s Friday Night. Is Your Kid At A Frat?

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How can your kid be hurt at a frat? Let us count the ways. Graphic is from The Atlantic

Even if you are a Caitlin Flanagan h8ter, read her cover story in this month’s Atlantic about how dangerous college fraternities are, to your daughters, your sons, and to you.

There’s always a downside to a Flanagan article: the excessive gesture to whatever theory keeps her recognizable as a conservative. For example, it seems almost mandatory for right wing writers to assert that college is all play and no work, and that student leisure is an expensive, wasteful university marketing ploy. This works to obscure the fact that that wealthy donors would rather have their names on buildings than lower tuition anonymously. It neglects the fact government at all levels has Hoovered public dollars out of public and private…

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February 18, 2014, 11:19 am

Dear Mr. Kristof: A Letter from a Public Intellectual

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The word you were looking for was WTF

Over the weekend, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof got an earful when he bewailed the absence of academics writing for a broad audience (“Professors, We Need You!”, February 15, 2014.) Much gnashing of teeth ensued. I left an extended comment over at Corey Robin’s blog; Corey’s post is full of great links to other public intellectuals.  And can we give three cheers to our colleagues at UIC, intellectuals out in public who are walking the picket line today and tomorrow?

I was also lucky enough to receive a guest post over the transom from an old friend, Carol Emberton, a professor of American history at SUNY-Buffalo. Emberton is the author of Beyond Redemption: Race, Violence, and the American South after the Civil War (University of Chicago Press, 2013.) In a…

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