Monthly Archives: January 2014

The gristmill of praise

From August 2013 to January 2014, I—a humble, workaday professor of English and creative writing at the University of Minnesota—received more than 1,600 letters of recommendation. In August, I vetted 56 applications for an administrative position in creative writing, each dutifully accompanied by three reference letters. In September and October, 196 applications for a tenure-track […] … learn more→

Explosive volcanoes light up Mercury’s deep past

Mercury has long been a mystery to scientists. Until recently, knowledge of the planet was limited to the grey, patchy landscape revealed by the Mariner 10 probe, NASA’s first mission to Mercury in the mid-1970s. Mariner-10’s photographs showed little detail of how the surface was formed. Like Venus, Earth and Mars, it was clear that […] … learn more→

How to manage an alcohol-free FebFast

So you’ve taken the FebFast challenge and committed to 28 alcohol-free days – well done. Far from a well-meaning charity gesture and test of your self-control, drinking less may just come with a bunch of health benefits. Alcohol is an accepted part of the social structure in Australia, but it is a substance that has […] … learn more→

Report: The best States for green job growth

America\’s biggest cities are going green. If you\’re looking for a job in sustainability, New York City, San Francisco and Chicago all rank in\’s top cities for green careers. The 2010 Census revealed that more Americans have been migrating toward cities over the last decade. In order to support the needs of these growing […] … learn more→

Training historians and the dual degree

When historians gathered for their annual meeting in January, the future of the discipline itself was on the agenda. Amid the talk about the relevance of historical scholarship and the precarious employment prospects for history Ph.D.’s were promising proposals aimed at broadening the graduate curriculum and rewarding nonacademic career paths. But one potential solution seemed […] … learn more→

Train lawyers, not legal scholars

America’s system for training lawyers is in crisis. Law students pay exorbitant prices for an education that does not prepare them to actually practice law. The legal degree, a J.D., is a professional degree. When did a professional education system become so divorced from the profession it supports? As meticulously detailed in a report last […] … learn more→

Adjunct narratives

First person narratives about the adjunct experience in academia are being published – it seems – daily. Today, I came across a link from a Facebook friend about a Fairbanks, Alaska adjunct on food stamps. A link to a story about motherhood and adjuncting was also shared with me today. The Chronicle of Higher Education […] … learn more→

Fixing Higher Education, Part 15

Faculty: “Either I do what the dean wants, and screw over this person who deserves the position…or I get fired and lose my health benefits, which I really need right now. What do you think I’m going to do?” –overheard faculty dilemma. The illusion that faculty have any real influence over anything on campus is […] … learn more→

Hanging up on a calling

The call came just as I was about to step on a plane to visit my brand-new baby niece: It was the associate dean of the tiny honors college where I had taught my first year out of graduate school. I’d left them for a much fancier gig at Ohio State, a high-profile postdoc that […] … learn more→

It\’s time for a new definition of accreditation

The impending review and renewal of the Higher Education Act will be a defining moment in the tumultuous relationship between higher-education accreditation and the political forces of government. Many people in the academic world resist the inevitable and continuing political demands for greater openness, clinging to an almost romantic view of the academy, rooted in […] … learn more→