As I've noted before, I usually love the first day of classes of the fall semester. Today, though, is not as exciting, as (a) it is cold and overcast, and (b) I'm not teaching this semester so I don't have my own class to look forward to. Next year will get back on track....
The University of Minnesota's Welcome Week doesn't officially start until tomorrow, but there are already a number of first year students on campus for other events (such as the Multicultural Kickoff). The new academic year is almost here!
At this time last week I was attending College of Liberal Arts commencement ceremonies. While the vast majority of graduates were in caps and gowns, a few were not. I remember being told to "show up in your regalia, or stay home" when preparing for my 1990 graduation. Although I usually favor the relaxation of traditional regulations, this is one that needs to be enforced!
In some ways, achieving tenure is like building a new door to a house: (1) you study an existing door; (2) build a new door that is recognizable as such, but also "improves" on the old door; (3) invite a team of previous door-builders to certify your new door; and (4) convince the team that even though the door might squeek a little bit, it's solidly contructed so it won't collapse anytime soon, and you'll go on to build additional doors in other houses....
Very cool commercial; I saw this for the first time (in a slightly different version) during 24 tonight. Of course, however, I can't advocate for an online university that much!
According to UThink records, this is my 500th blog entry. I must have deleted a few of the earliest ones, though, as the oldest posting includes pictures, and I know that I did something without pictures first! In any event, I'm a bit surprised that I still maintain this blog after 4+ years, as it was supposed to be just a demo for a class assignment. Then again, once something becomes a routine it's easy to keep it going....
A Florida State University football player has won a Rhodes scholarship. Go 'head on and bust those stereotypes, Brotha!
Usually the first day of fall classes is my favorite day of the year. Today was not so hot, though, as (a) it rained all day, (b) I had jet lag from a 12:35->6:15 A.M. red-eye flight from San Francisco, and (b) the New Student Convocation was moved from the first day of classes. Next year will definitely be better!
Today my academic home moved from the College of Education and Human Development to the College of Liberal Arts. CEHD couldn't wait to kick a Brotha out, it seems, as my PsTL faculty page no longer is listed on the PsTL faculty directory...and it was not there yesterday either (!). I wonder how long ago they deleted the link? I still have much love for my old college, though!
Call for Papers:
"The Obama Effect"
October 23-25, 2008
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
Now that he has become the presumptive presidential nominee for the Democratic Party ticket, Barack Obama has challenged conventional wisdom about race, politics, media, and generation. In this historic election year, it is imperative for scholars and professionals in a wide variety of disciplines to reflect upon the potential effects of Obama on: American and global public opinion; party politics; voter participation; media representations; international relations; religious discourses; and constructions of racial, ethnic, sexual, and gender identities.
This conference invites papers from scholars and professionals working from different perspectives on the phenomenon of presumptive Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama's political career. Our goal is to create a conference that will showcase various and interdisciplinary approaches to the "Obama Effect" to provide participants with a multi-faceted view of the past year's campaign and its potential effects on a wide range of social arenas.
Essays and research papers from scholars, journalists, political consultants, community activists, and others are desired. Accepted papers will be considered for inclusion in an edited collection. We are particularly interested in receiving papers that address recent developments in the campaign, and seeing papers on the following topics:
Abstracts must be emailed no later than July 18th.
Contact for abstracts or questions:
Dr. Catherine Squires
Cowles Chair for Journalism, Diversity & Equality
School of Journalism and Mass Communication
Murphy Hall 111
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, MN 55455-0418
In the fall of 2008 I will be co-teaching a course for the first time: Digital Storytelling in and With Communities of Color. Should be fun!
Insidehighered.com reports that a movie about the higher education tenure process will soon begin filming, with Luke Wilson as the junior faculty member up for the prize. Hhhmmmm....
I thought that I would be able to take my first ever Spring Break next week, but, alas, too much work has built up over the past few days to take more than a day or two off. Oh well; maybe next year!
There's a new book out called Pimpin' Ain't Easy: Selling Black Entertainment Television. I'm gonna have to title my next book Chairin' Ain't Easy, especially if I ever have to stay in my office until midnight again, like I did last night....
According to a recent study, most Negro men on many college campuses are athletes. Damn, I thought this was 2008, not 1908!
It's been a while since somebody thought I was an athlete; I think that was back in my second or third year as a professor (!). The White guy who did so thought I was a basketball player, of course. Maybe if I beef up another 10 pounds or so the next guy will think I'm a tight end on the football team. (I guess I could be a wide receiver, but my walk is not quite springy enough for that.)
Yesterday I went to the movies for the first time all semester (!). True, I still watch a bunch of movies via netflix, but wow, I can't believe that I had to wait until the last day of the semester to see a movie in the theaters (I saw The Golden Compass). Chairin' ain't easy....
My fortune cookie message from lunch today: "You are able to analyze objectively and express yourself clearly." That was definitely an auspicious sign at the end of a discussion with one of my mentors about being a department chair!
Last night I bought four bags of candy but only distributed a bag and a half to Halloween trick-or-treaters. Last year I bought three bags and gave nearly all of it away, so I don't quite know what happened this year. Today I'll take one bag to class to pass out to my students. Maybe I should hold on to the other one until the end of the term for use to raise my teaching evaluation scores :).
Today is the first day of classes, my favorite day of the year, as I've written in previous entries (2005, 2006). Today should be especially exciting since I'm in a new department and in a different part of campus. Happy first day of classes, everyone!
Check out the newly redesigned African American and African Studies department website.
Yesterday I got stopped by a cat in front of the student union, who asked me, "Yo, how come the people around here look like they've been brainwashed?" My response: "I don't know. Last week was spring break, so they don't really want to be here this week." He thanked me and walked away. A few minutes later I realized that I failed to read his query correctly. Essentially, I think, he wanted to comment on the university as a propaganda machine, a space where students get force-fed information that maintains the status quo rather than a place where they are provided the opportunity to really think and challenge common assumptions. I wish that I had grasped his point and then talked to him about it....
Usually I go to one conference a year, but this year I'm attending many more. Tomorrow, for example, I'll be jetting off for the third time in a month! I've got to get back to a slower pace....
I've discussed my love of the first day of fall classes in previous posts. The first day of the spring semester is also usually a good day. I'm not teaching this semester, so I attended the first day of a colleague's Child Literature class. Now I want to go home and read....
My colleague Heidi Barajas and I have an answer in The U's "Driven to Discover" branding campaign. I can't link directly to the question, but it's the 3rd one from the bottom, "Is a quality education a privilege, or does everyone have the right to be educated?"
I just noticed that the College of Education and Human Development's website says that we are "Inspiring Minds." Hhhmmm, is this our new college brand, along lines of the all-university Driven to Discover campaign?
Today is one of my favorite days of the year, as I discussed in a post on this day last year. From 9-9:30 this morning I stood in the hallway here at Appleby Hall directing traffic for nervous, yet excited first year students. I can hardly believe that it's been 20 years since I also wandered around on the first day as a wide-eyed freshman (at Georgia Tech)....
My undergraduate institution is in the news about its codes for student conduct: "Freer Speech at Georgia Tech."
Photos from the GC "Coming Home" gala celebration.
According to Money Magazine, my job is #2 on a list of Best Jobs in America. Sweet!
Today is the National Student Walkout to protest the war in Iraq. During the march from The U's student union to a military recruitment station a very clean-cut White male undergrad took offense to the cheer of "Who is the terrorist? Bush is the terrorist!" The student's face looked like it would if somebody was calling his mama a ho or something. I was expecting a fight, but I guess that the presence of the Po-Po made him think twice and walk away....
Today a colleague and I discussed the possibility of linking two of our courses to form a learning community on "Performing Popular Culture." While we generated interesting ideas, I was skeptical about whether or not I really wanted to develop a new teaching project...'till I went to lunch and got this fortune cookie message: "A good time to start something new." OK then. Unfortunately, the fortune did not also have "lucky numbers" I could use to win tonight's $340M Powerball jackpot....
Last week a few General College professors received an email: "I would like to invite you and your guest with other Faculty members to join [the U of M president] as the Golden Gopher football team celebrates its Homecoming game against Purdue on Saturday, September 24th, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The game begins at 11:00 a.m. Your tickets to a pre-game reception in the President's/Athletic Director's tent, and your game ticket will be available at the entrance to the tent, which is located at Gate D, underneath the picnic shelter." We thought we'd get to talk to the Prez and then sit with him in his private box. Silly us! There were at least 500 people in the tent, and the only time we saw the Prez was on the podium making a speech to send the crowd into the stadium. Inside the dome our seats were scattered all over the place. Oh well, at least my seat was in a great location, and the game was a thrilling one....
The first day of fall semester classes -- TODAY! -- is my favorite day of the year. Why? There's just so much energy in the air as students stream in and out of freshly scrubbed campus buildings. More specifically, the mixture of excitement and fear of first year students reminds me of the endless possibilities of academia....
Today is significant in two ways: (1) it's my first official day as an associate professor (with tenure), and (2) it is the 10th anniversary of my first time teaching. Wow, it's hard to believe that 10 years have gone by since 4:00 on August 29, 1995, when I entered Ballantine Hall 330 to teach Indiana University's sociology s335 -- "race and ethnic relations" -- as a graduate student. At 4:00 today (in about 45 minutes!) I'll go sit in my first U of MN classroom (Appleby 219) and re-read my Fall 1995 teaching journal....
How can one tell if s/he is cut out to be a college professor? Easy: you always remember the publisher and year of a book, but forget either the title or the author.
A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education argues that professors who blog have a few disadvantages (compared to non-bloggers) while searching for jobs. It's a good thing, then, that I'm not on the market.
This morning the U of M regents approved the plan to downsize the General College from a college to a department. This afternoon the GC dean posted a response on the GC website: "Although we remain concerned about the long-term feasibility of what President Bruininks has proposed with respect to General College, we are committed to assisting him in exploring an organizational model for the college that fits his framework and conforms to his timetable for transformation." Let's hope that we can come up with something that effectively serves the interests of students....
Yesterday I was a first-time participant in a public art display, where supporters of General College held signs of "the faces of GC." It was supposed to be a silent rally outside of a public hearing about The U's strategic positioning plans, but several people stopped to chat with us. Then at the end of the rally one supporter started yelling at departing administrators, which was not so cool. Aside from that, though, it was a very positive atmosphere!
Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum's short story "Accomplice" contains an interesting argument:
Teaching...[is] a form of extortion; you [are] forever trying to extract from your students something they [don't] want to part with: their attention, their labor, their trust.
The president of the University of Minnesota has released his strategic positioning recommendations to advance a goal of becoming a leading public university (top 3 in the world). He pretty much followed the recommendations released in March by two strategic positioning task forces. The only new idea was a proposal to establish a vice president for diversity. Of course, this person will probably not have any real power, but it'll look good on paper....
Efforts to save the General College reached a new level when 9 students were arrested after staging a sit-in at the President's office yesterday. For more 411, see a Minnesota Daily account of the events, and the "Take a Left" blog for pictures and commentary. The student organizers of the protest also have a web page that's starting to take shape.
Yesterday I received big academic news in two letters. One was from a research foundation, saying that I got turned down for a grant. No biggie with that, though, as it was totally insignificant next to the other letter I opened a few hours earlier, one that every academic wants to get: I will receive tenure. Now I can go join the Dead Wood Club :).
Yesterday hundreds of people held a rally in support of The U's General College, which is facing closure. For stories (including video!), go to the Minnesota Daily (Quicktime video) or KARE 11 (video for the media player from The Evil Empire).
As I noted last week, The U wants to downsize the General College from a college to a department. GC is fighting the change, and has altered its website to reflect this. You can also find blogs about the campaign to save GC, both official and "underground." Check 'em out!
Today the University of Minnesota announced strategic recommendations to further a goal of becoming one of the top three public research universities in the world. Among the recommendations: a proposal to transform General College (my academic unit) into a department in a revamped College of Education and Human Development. The last five weeks of the spring semester should be very interesting....