A violation of trust in the classroom

Over at Mama Ph.D., “Math Geek Mom” Rosemarie Emanuele revealed something that happened to her last year which I find unbelieveably shocking and upsetting:

Ursuline College [her employer] has excellent programs in fashion design and fashion merchandising, along with several tangential programs, including interior design and the only master’s program in Historic Preservation in the state of Ohio. I often have students from these programs in my classes, and can’t help but feel a little self-conscious at my own wardrobe, which is classical “preppy”. It looks ok on me, and saves me money in buying new clothes, since I only have to replace things when they wear out. I make no pretense of trying to be in style, and I therefore don’t have to even try. However, last semester I discovered that my own disregard to fashion was not necessarily shared by my students.

I learned, from one of my math majors, that a student in one of my classes had been taking pictures of me in class and sending them to friends at another school. She overheard this student talking in the cafeteria about a new picture she had taken of me, which she was e-mailing to her friend [emphasis Historiann’s.]  Continue reading

Why not start at the top?

womanonladderThe College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin has decided that it’s not enough to hire junior women faculty and wait for them to progress through the “leaky pipeline“–it has a specific strategy for hiring women as full professors (h/t Inside Higher Ed).  (Although if you read down into the story, you’ll see that they’re also hiring these women’s husbands/partners who are also scholars, presumably as senior faculty, too.)

“What they did is very unusual, because there are more issues with recruiting full professors, who have more complicated lives and who may be very happy where they are,” said Philippa Levine, a British historian who will be moving to Austin from the University of Southern California. Levine said she wasn’t looking to move, but was swayed by the “dynamism” she found at Texas. And at a time when public universities are complaining that they can’t outbid private universities in putting together packages, Texas did so.

Texas “absolutely” offered her more. “It’s an entirely appropriate and extremely generous package,” she said. “My sense was that UT was very shrewd in understanding the way these politics operate.” She added that while she is pleased to see Texas and other institutions hiring more women in the junior ranks, “you don’t change the structures” unless you also expand the number of women in the senior ranks.

UT focused on identifying people who were “moveable,” and worked at recruiting them!  What an unusual strategy for women job candidates–regular readers will recall Associate Professor Alice’s Adventures at Blunderland U. on a misbegotten interview.  Continue reading

Pointless "gotcha" article, or "gotcha?"

Yesterday, the Boston Globe published an article announcing that “Strapped Colleges Keep Leaders in Luxury” (h/t Inside Higher Ed yesterday.)  Daring investigative journalism has revealed that:

From the many windows of her stone mansion, MIT president Susan Hockfield enjoys a commanding view of sailboats gliding along the Charles River. When Northeastern president Joseph Aoun steps outside his five-story brick town house, he finds himself just across the street from Boston Common.

Their counterparts at other private colleges reside in luxury as well, many on centuries-old estates surrounded by well-tended gardens and lawns cared for by loyal staffs. The homes, many provided by universities as part of their presidents’ compensation, are the ultimate perk in this college-rich region, but one that increasingly appears to represent a bygone era.

Now the opulence risks standing out amid frozen faculty salaries, widespread layoffs, and slashed programs. While the houses often serve an important ceremonial role and it is questionable how much money could be saved by their elimination, the very mention of them has elicited low-level grumbling on campuses and anxiety among university officials over the Globe’s request to tour them.

Scandalous!  Shocking!  I suppose the next revelation will be that some of those college and university presidents make more money than everyone but the football coach!  Continue reading

Julie & Julia: Mastering the art of feminist filmmaking

With a cameo by my favorite casserole dish!

With a cameo by my favorite casserole dish!

I got out to see Julie & Julia today–it was a very fine movie.  Sentimental, of course, as are all of Nora Ephron’s movies, but it was a terrific story that centered on women characters–not just Julie Powell and Julia Child, but their wider circles of friends (and the occasional nemesis or frenemy) were dominated by women, and for the most part, by middle-aged and non-Hollywood looking women.  Seriously–I’d bet that this movie cast more women actors than the rest of all of this summer’s movies combined, so for that reason alone it deserves the support of all right-thinking grown-ups everywhere.  All of the major characters (except for Paul Child and Eric Powell) are women.  Other people have written about the sympathetic and supportive husbands in this movie–you can go read elsewhere about them.  I’m more interested in the women and the food. 

The next most important stars were the dishes cooked and/or eaten by the Julie and Julia characters–one must admire the on-set chefs who needed to produce these dishes to be photographed and used as props.  (The Julia Child scenes featured more actual eating–the Julie Powell scenes had more food-as-comedy-props in them–for example, the calf’s leg, the lobsters, and the chocolate cake, in pretty much the cliched ways you’d expect.)  I was also thrilled that a Le Creuset casserole in the fabulous color called “flame” had significant cameos in both the 1950s and the 2002-03 scenes, since I own the very same dish!  And I too have cooked many a fine Boeuf Bourguinon in the very pot you see here.  (Watch for it!)

More thoughts, and a spoiler, after the jump: Continue reading

Medicare for All: not so scary, is it?

Ian Welsh at Open Left (via Corrente):  just get over it and offer Medicare for All.  He writes,

Ruling out “single payer” from the very start was an act of mind-bending incompetence on the level of disbanding Iraq’s army during the occupation of Iraq.  From a policy point of view “Medicare for all” provides massive savings, and we know it works because the equivalent policies have worked for every other nation in the world who ever implemented then.  From a sales point of view it’s much harder to demonize Medicare and much easier to explain it.  From a negotiation point of view pre-compromising is so stupid that anyone who has spent 5 minutes in a third world bazaar or taken even a single negotiating class knows better.

The current health reform “bills” are turning into a cluster[fr@ck] of epic proportions.   Continue reading

I can haz homework assignment?

wtfFrom the mailbag at Historiann HQ:

Dear Historiann,

I’m a historian.  I just got an e-mail request from a graduate student to write a short bio of  myself.  She’s required to read my most recent book and include something on the author’s background.  My first response is WTF?  This is  basic research.  With databases, online catalogs, and departmental web pages, this is not a challenge!  You don’t just write to the author!  Would it be really rude to say, “you might want to check out my articles and other books, which should provide all the information you need for such an assignment?”

Thanks, and just sign me,

Flabbergasted Full Professor

Wow, FFP–I’m with you.  Is this grad student really trying to get you to do hir homework for hir?  Or is she just confused?  Whatever the truth of the matter, it’s probably best to assume that this graduate student is more confused than obnoxious.  Ze may not understand that the assignment to “include something on the author’s background” is a call for a professional or intellectual biography, rather than a personal biography, which as you note is basic research that can be gleaned by reading your other books and articles and looking at your web page.  You can point that out to hir, and perhaps list the other places you’ve taught in the past that might not be on your current departmental web page.

I’ve never had an e-mail like this from a college or graduate student, but I get a couple of e-mails per year from middle school or high school students asking me for my advice on research topics that are only tangentially related to my research interests.  Continue reading