In Praise of the Field Trip

On a chilly, grey Chicago afternoon not that long ago, I drove to the Pullman National Monument. The rain was intermittent and traffic thin. I was a tourist in my own city, pulling into an empty parking lot and wondering if others found nineteenth century labor history equally fascinating. Short answer: very few people were…

Honoring Chandler Davidson, Social Justice Scholar and Teacher

Good teachers teach students a subject. Great teachers do that and more. They change how we think. Chandler Davidson was a great teacher. I was fortunate to learn from him in my undergraduate days at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Davidson, sadly, recently passed away. Reading his obituary brought back memories and a deeper appreciation…

Not So Sporting: A Scandalous Reminder

All the way back in 1989, seemingly hundreds of years ago, David Whitford wrote A Payroll To Meet: A Story of Greed, Corruption, and Football at SMU. I picked it up at a used book store, curious about a scandal I had heard about, but did not really follow. I’m glad that I read it.…

Leaders & Leadership: Revisiting Guidance

Leading effectively can be a life’s work. Inherently situational, leadership is defined and informed by context, people and circumstance, all of which constantly change. Recent experience hammers this home: figuring out how to lead in a pandemic, in the crucible of the recent crises, calls out for tools that can offer assistance and perspective. Recently…

Merit Debunked

One of the most insightful books about higher education in the past few years is The Merit Myth: How Our Colleges Favor the Rich and Divide America, by Anthony P. Carnevale, Peter Schmidt, and Jeff Strohl. It received a good degree of notice and mostly positive reviews, and was mentioned as one of Forbes Magazine’s…

Communities of Practice – New Models for New Times

This summer, amid social distancing and the challenges of remote work, between zooms, more zooms and the occasional conference call, I joined Dr. Jabari Bodrick of the University of South Carolina as a co-facilitator in a Campus Compact’s Community of Practice. It was interesting, offering direct insights and a provocative lens for reflection, worthy of…

Good Grading, Good Grades

Several colleges and universities have changed spring semester grading processes in response to the pandemic and our collective shifts to distance learning. The debates and decisions about grading prompted me to return to one of my all-time favorite higher education books, Effective Grading: A Tool for Learning and Assessment, by Barbara Walvoord and Virginia Johnson…