Category Archives: mediating disputes

January 19, 2014, 1:03 pm

Department of Manuscripts and Archives: The Obama Library

Chicago

Should the location of a presidential library be a political decision or a travel decision? Photo credit.

It seems that national policy making may be more or less over until 2017 or beyond, so let’s turn to legacy: where should the Barack Obama Presidential Library and Museum be established?

Since it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who began the tradition, by turning over his own home to preserving his legacy, this is a relatively modern problem: most presidents don’t actually have their own libraries. George Washington just got one last fall at Mount Vernon, his former estate in Virginia. Calvin Coolidge donated his collection to the Forbes Library in Northampton, MA, beginning in 1920, making it the only public library in the United States to be charged with preserving a presidential collection.

The…

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December 26, 2013, 2:23 pm

Click (Dis)Like: Why Social Media Use Is Now A Professional Issue

computerIn my continuing study of Internet rage, I stumbled across this commentary on the Justine Sacco affair. Sacco, you may recall, was the communications director for InterActiveCorp, who tweeted “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” before getting on a flight to South Africa.

Upon arrival (the trip takes around 12 hours, an eternity on the web), Sacco found, among other things, that she had lost her job. An initially puzzled discussion about whether she had been hacked resolved itself into a collective belief that the offensive tweet had precedents, and must be genuine. While Sacco had been in the air, as Nick Bilton wrote on December 24 2013, “the Internet turned into a voracious and vengeful mob….people threatened to rape, shoot, kill and torture her. The mob found her Facebook and Instagram accounts and began threatening the same perils on…

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December 11, 2013, 10:03 am

Should a Grading Policy Be Absolute? No,No,No

No-Whining-Sticker-(2146)

In the old days at Zenith, I had this sign hanging in my office, given to me as a Christmas present by a student.

OK, so there are some of your students who weren’t listening to Amy Winehouse this semester: too much shot glass, too little in class. Now is the time of year that the chickens come home to roost, don’t they? Their failures are our failures.

And it makes us so mad that we sometimes respond badly. I was privy to an interesting conversation yesterday about having policies that govern late papers, make up exams and whatnot.

The arguments about whether to enforce late paper policies strictly ranged from:

  • Do it: I’ve heard every excuse before; to
  • Don’t be an a$$hat. Give the kid a make up the exam.

I want to emphasize: there truly was a healthy range of views expressed on this issue, and …

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June 2, 2011, 3:07 pm

As The Department Turns: What Causes Conflict, Drama And Other Energy Sapping Dynamics

Things can explode when you least expect it!

 This week’s Chronicle of Higher Education features a blog post by David Perlmutter entitled “It’s Not Your Fault.”  Aimed mostly at helping assistant professors and graduate students understand how they might have unintentionally become the target of a senior person’s anger or jealousy, Perlmutter explores six factors that might cause unwelcome behaviors by senior people.  While it is sometimes the case that a younger person’s actions might have provoked the incident or ongoing dynamic, it is also likely that it didn’t. The project of figuring out what went wrong can be just as agonizing for a younger person as the reprisals and criticisms themselves. 

As Perlmutter notes wisely, “sometimes the quickest relief comes from merely figuring out that a single tussle or a longstanding feud is not your fault but rather originates in the minds,…

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September 26, 2010, 2:42 am

Where Women Gather, Trouble Follows: Letting Off Steam At The University Of Toledo

When you were flying over Ohio last week, did you see a big cloud over Toledo?  That was a bunch of steamed up faculty!  The Toledo Blade reports a wholesale restructuring of the University of Toledo that has comrades at that school in a state of distress.  According to Blade reporter Christopher Kirkpatrick,”President Lloyd Jacobs plans to break up the century-old College of Arts and Sciences and create three new colleges in its place.”  These colleges will be “discipline-driven,” and the humanities and social sciences have been promised an equal seat at the table with the professional schools and the sciences. Humanities and social science faculty are skeptical of this, and everything else about their future in the new university.  Jacobs was hired in 2006, promising the board of trustees that he would “create a UT academic experience more relevant to everyday life, and to ultimately…

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December 10, 2008, 3:22 pm

Lifeboat: A Conversation About The Incredible Shrinking Budget

Yesterday we had a big meeting at Zenith: more members of the faculty attended than at any previous meeting I can recall, except for one about ten years ago when our last newly hired president was introduced. The Radical and several co-conspirators used this unusual quorum to kill a major university committee to which they had been elected. It was a hideous, time-waster of a major committee, one that received institutional problems that no one wanted to do anything about, made recommendations after many circular and ill-informed debates, and saw those recommendations sent to The File That Has No Name by the administrator who had been appointed the boss of us. In retaliation — I mean, response — to this institutional travesty, we secretly devoted our energy, not to issues that were dumped on our doorstep, but to creating a rationale and a strategy for killing the committee. The…

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November 16, 2008, 11:02 am

Oh, Canada! The Radical Overcomes

So for the last few days I have been in a Far Northern City at a Legal History Conference. I was invited there to be on a panel organized by Princeton History department newbie Margot Canaday (whose book, by the way, is coming out in the spring — keep your eyes peeled.) It was a great panel, and since I had never been to a meeting of this particular society before, actually a Different Experience (always nice to know you can have one, after almost 25 years of being an academic, isn’t it?) Lots of the people attending were legal scholars, some were historians of the law, and others (like me) were kibitzers who stomp all over the field while we write a book that is sort of about the law. I spent time with two dear friends who I hadn’t expected to see; a third, also a kibitzing historian, ran up to me at registration on Friday, and said: “Thank God I know someone here!” Folks in the…

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September 13, 2008, 2:39 pm

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe*: Or, How to Evaluate the Candidate Pool

One of the things everyone is talking about in the presidential race is the capacity for good decision-making, who has it, and what relationship that bears to previous experience making hard decisions. OK, so you are not running for national office, nor are you a pit bull with lipstick (or was that a hockey Mom who is a pig? I can never remember.) But you are on a search committee. And you have never been on one before. And there is a large drawer of files to evaluate. You have decisions to make. So today’s topic is:

How do you evaluate a candidate pool and decide which 10-12 people you want to invite to a preliminary interview for a tenure-track job?

There are a number of criteria that will be in play, depending on what kind of slot your optimum candidate is expected to fill and how broadly you advertised in terms of field. But one of the things I think is important is to have some…

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July 30, 2007, 3:00 pm

The No Asshole Rule: A Reflection

As you know if you make a close study of Tenured Radical 2.0 in all of its features, I have been reading Robert I. Sutton’s The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. And to get to the punchline quickly: you should read it too. It is short, it is well written and Sutton — a professor of management science and engineering at Stanford University — has written a book that nicely bridges the worlds of business and intellectual work.

What occasioned my purchase of this book? Well, it doesn’t really matter, does it, because I loved it and I wish something like it had been available to me years ago. I would also say that the bulk of my labor this year will be administrative, and because there is no formal mentoring in this kind of work, I do what I can to learn management techniques, either by observing adminstrators at Zenith closely and seeing…

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June 8, 2007, 12:57 pm

Life as a Broker: The Role of the Committee Chair in Faculty-Administration Relations

In order to stay better informed, your Radical has signed up for the free daily updates from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Like every other periodical and newspaper that comes into this house, I can’t read all of the update, much less all of the Chronicle, which is why I did not use my remaining research monies to buy a horrendously expensive on-line subscription. But I do like scanning the update for items of interest: I also started scanning Inside Higher Ed when they started linking me, which may be part of their strategy for linking bloggers: “Bring ‘em into the light, boys!” Sometimes what I see in my daily scan are items of great interest, sometimes they are small pieces that cause me to think. And when I think, I blog. It’s inescapable.

Today’s food for thought was by a fellow named Gene Fant, who was a department chair at a small southern college, recently became a…

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