Archive for 2012

October 21st 2012
George McGovern, 1922-2012

Posted under American history

George McGovern, the 1972 Democratic nominee for President, died this morning in his home state of South Dakota.  The New York Times obit included this description of the 1972 Democratic convention:

The nominating convention in Miami was a disastrous start to the general election campaign. There were divisive platform battles over Vietnam, abortion, welfare and court-ordered busing to end racial discrimination. The eventual platform was probably the most liberal one ever adopted by a major party in the United States. It advocated an immediate withdrawal from Vietnam, amnesty for war resisters, the abolition of the draft, a guaranteed job for all Americans and a guaranteed family income well above the poverty line.

Several prominent Democrats declined Mr. McGovern’s offer to be his running mate before he finally chose Senator Thomas F. Eagleton of Missouri.

Mr. McGovern’s organization was so disorganized that by the time he went to the convention rostrum for his acceptance speech, it was nearly 3 a.m. He delivered perhaps the best speech of his life. “We reject the view of those who say, ‘America, love it or leave it,’ ” he declared. “We reply, ‘Let us change it so we can love it more.’ ”

The delegates loved it, but most television viewers had long since gone to bed. Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

October 20th 2012
Creating a diverse pool of finalists for faculty jobs

Posted under Gender & jobs & race

Dive into the pool!

Nicoleandmaggie from Grumpy Rumblings of the Untenured left a very smart comment in the peanut gallery of the last post that I thought deserved highlighting and discussing.  They write:

My department has had huge success hiring high quality women and minorities. (We’re almost all women and minority assistants and associates, in fact.) How do we do it? Well, we recruit widely and we pretty much just use rubrics to hire advanced assistants and new associates. We initially cut the pool by number of publications in a specific tier of journals. We look through the rest and rate on specific things in a grid using numbers. Then we compare people at the top with numbers that are above a certain threshhold. Then we double check all the women and minorities. We’re also good about policing potentially sexist and racist language and we almost completely ignore letters of recommendation.

We don’t assume that the woman or minority is the trailing spouse. And we end up with really strong final candidates even though our teaching load is a bit higher than average and we’re in the middle of nowhere. And then they accept the job. (Turns out hubby or partner is willing to be a trailing spouse and single women actually will take jobs in the middle of nowhere.) Continue Reading »

10 Comments »

October 18th 2012
Binders full of women

Posted under American history & Gender & women's history

Image credit here.

Some people are mystified as to why “binders full of women” is the meme that people remember from Tuesday night’s presidential debate.  Some men obviously don’t get it (see below), but I think a lot of women were struck by the awkwardness and belabored tone of Mitt Romney’s anecdote about improving the representation of women appointees in his gubernatorial administration in Massachusetts in the past decade.  In trying to demonstrate that he thinks about sex equity and has taken steps in his career to redress what he sees as an imbalance, he unfortunately only confirmed a Democratic perception of him as insular and out of touch with the worlds that most people live and work in.  Perhaps many were wondering like me, “the only time you thought about this was when you were nearly 60 years old and in public office?  What about all of those years at Boston Consulting Group and Bain?  Hmmm.”

(N.B.  Before demagoguing this, Democrats should ask themselves about their party’s commitment to sex equity and equal opportunity for women and men in the workplace.  How ’bout that 2008 primary season?  Remember that?  Then shut up, Democrats, and stop acting like your party isn’t the abusive boyfriend or husband warning women “It’ll be worse for you if you dump me for the other guy!“) Continue Reading »

38 Comments »

October 17th 2012
Marshall College scandal: Dr. Jones denied tenure!

Posted under fluff & jobs & students

Love you anyway!

Sad, but true.  Here’s an excerpt from the Archaeology department’s T & P committee letter to Dr. Jones (h/t Monocle Man for this one):

January 22, 1939

Assistant Professor Henry “Indiana” Jones Jr.
Department of Anthropology
Chapman Hall 227B
Marshall College

Dr. Jones:

As chairman of the Committee on Promotion and Tenure, I regret to inform you that your recent application for tenure has been denied by a vote of 6 to 1. Following past policies and procedures, proceedings from the committee’s deliberations that were pertinent to our decision have been summarized below according to the assessment criteria.

Demonstrates suitable experience and expertise in chosen field:

The committee concurred that Dr. Jones does seem to possess a nearly superhuman breadth of linguistic knowledge and an uncanny familiarity with the history and material culture of the occult. However, his understanding and practice of archaeology gave the committee the greatest cause for alarm. Criticisms of Dr. Jones ranged from “possessing a perceptible methodological deficiency” to “practicing archaeology with a complete lack of, disregard for, and colossal ignorance of current methodology, theory, and ethics” to “unabashed grave-robbing.” Given such appraisals, perhaps it isn’t surprising to learn that several Central and South American countries recently assembled to enact legislation aimed at permanently prohibiting his entry.

Moreover, no one on the committee can identify who or what instilled Dr. Jones with the belief that an archaeologist’s tool kit should consist solely of a bullwhip and a revolver. Continue Reading »

5 Comments »

October 15th 2012
The downside of being a Nobel laureate? The dance is mostly a stag affair.

Posted under European history & Gender & women's history

The early morning phone call (for North Americans)!  The endless numbers of invitations to give lectures!  Being taken seriously!  There is no end to the inconvenience of having won a Nobel Prize, apparently.  Doesn’t that make you feel better?  I know it makes me feel better about my obscurity and mediocrity!

I like this guy:

“Frankly, I have no complaints whatsoever,” says Martin Veltman, a physics laureate at the Universities of Utrecht and Michigan. Veltman shared the 1999 prize with his former student, Gerard ‘t Hooft, for work that put the mathematics behind the Higgs boson on sound footing. But Veltman does raise an eyebrow at some of the other members of the Nobel club. “Sometimes I wonder about the other laureates,” he says. “In fact I have discovered the truth of a remark by [Enrico] Fermi. Someone asked him: ‘What have the Nobel prize winners in common? His answer: ‘Nothing, not even intelligence.’”

Here’s something this year’s prizewinners have in commonContinue Reading »

15 Comments »

October 11th 2012
Baa Ram U. featured again on NPR

Posted under local news & students

Clark Bldg., with Historiann’s office highlighted in red. NPR photo by Becky Lettenberger.

Now, this is how you build a national reputation–prominent and flattering placement in free media, rather than building $250 million stadiums.  NPR’s Renee Montagne aired two interviews yesterday and today on Morning Edition featuring people connected to Colorado State University and its local community.  Yesterday morning, she spoke with CSU Political Science majors, and today she talked to local Latinas about the presidential election in our swing state.  And guess what?  Montagne didn’t come here because she had heard about the famously losing record of our famously losing football team with its famously overpaid coach! My guess is that she rooted her stories here because of the work of political scientist and local pundit John Straayer, a faculty member who built his 46 year long career here.

NPR visited a few weeks ago on an unusual rainy day, so the photo at left was probably taken on another day.  The view is of the Clark building, home of several departments in the College of Liberal Arts including Poli Sci and History.  In fact, the NPR photographer got a shot of my office window, highlighted in red at left.  (I must not have been on campus that day, as I usually have the narrow central window cranked open.)  Continue Reading »

14 Comments »

October 8th 2012
Hark, a job! Assistant Professor, modern Britain, Baa Ram U.

Posted under European history & jobs & local news

FYI, from the h-net job advertisement:

The Department of History at Colorado State University invites applications for the position of Assistant Professor of History, with a concentration in modern Britain (c. 1700 through the twentieth century, including the British Empire).  This is an entry-level tenure-track position, beginning August 16, 2013. The successful candidate will be appointed untenured and at the rank of Assistant Professor.  Required qualifications include Ph.D. in History at time of appointment; a demonstrated record of scholarship and promise of publication in area of concentration; a demonstrated record of teaching excellence; and a demonstrated ability to work effectively with faculty, students, and the public.  Preferred qualifications include ability to place the history of the British Isles into a European and wider world context.  Responsibilities include teaching undergraduate courses in the area of concentration and graduate courses in European history, as well as introductory-level survey course in Western Civilization or World History; pursuing research and publication projects; providing academic advising to undergraduate and graduate students; and fulfilling appropriate service assignments for the department, college, and university. Continue Reading »

26 Comments »

October 5th 2012
MOOCs and the longue duree

Posted under American history & students & technoskepticism

In a recent e-mail conversation with a friend who’s a few decades older than me, he reassured me that online education was a fad that will pass soon enough.  He has seen these predictions before with correspondence courses, then with TV in the 1950s and  1960s, and then with distance learning via closed-circuit TV and cable in the 1980s and 1990s.  Via Jonathan Rees, Nick Carr runs down the “Prehistory of the MOOC,” from the 1880s to the present:

Mail: Around 1885, Yale professor William Rainey Harper, a pioneer of teaching-by-post, said, “The student who has prepared a certain number of lessons in the correspondence school knows more of the subject treated in those lessons, and knows it better, than the student who has covered the same ground in the classroom.” Soon, he predicted, “the work done by correspondence will be greater in amount than that done in the class-rooms of our academies and colleges.”

Phonograph: In an 1878 article on “practical uses of the phonograph,” the New York Times predicted that the phonograph would be used “in the school-room in training children to read properly without the personal attention of the teacher; in teaching them to spell correctly, and in conveying any lesson to be acquired by study and memory. In short, a school may almost be conducted by machinery.”

Movies: “It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion picture,” proclaimed Thomas Edison in 1913. “Our school system will be completely changed in 10 years.” Continue Reading »

20 Comments »

October 3rd 2012
Arne Duncan: quite possibly the dopiest Secretary of Education we’ve ever seen

Posted under American history & childhood & class & jobs & local news & students & technoskepticism

Yesterday, Arne Duncan announced that he wants all schoolchildren to switch to electronic textbooks as fast as possible.  Because:  South Korea!  Or something.

Apparently (and unsurprisingly!) he hasn’t talked to any teachers or student teachers recently, many of whom don’t even have enough of the boring, old codex technology to send books home with their students so they can read and do homework at home, or anywhere outside of class.  A grad student of mine told me that when she did her student teaching in the Big Thompson school district last spring in Loveland, Colorado, this was the reality she was expected to cope with.  Oh, yeah:  she also said that half the students didn’t have internet access at home, so she and her cooperating teacher couldn’t assign them any online reading or schoolwork outside of class, and they had no budget for photocopies either. Continue Reading »

30 Comments »

October 1st 2012
What would happen to faculty if we failed 80% of the time? Or, being a $1.5 million coach means never having to say you’re sorry.

Posted under American history & Gender & local news & unhappy endings & wankers

Imagine, if you will, that my university recruited and hired a superstar professor and paid her $150,000 a year.  (This would make her among the highest paid of all faculty here, I am sure.)  Imagine that this professor then issued failing grades to 80% of her students, failed to publish 80% of her books and papers, and failed to do 80% of all service assignments and advising assigned to her.  Do you think that a professor  with this kind of a record would be rewarded with even more university resources such as a $25 million new lab or a $25 million donation to a research group that she led?

Now imagine that the sums I’ve given you above have been multiplied by ten.  Are you still with me?  Do you think that Professor Jerky McJerksalot would still have a job here?  Continue Reading »

18 Comments »

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