How to be an effective acting director, chair or dean — Part II (essay)

Last week, Inside Higher Ed published an essay of mine describing my experience as an interim dean. It covered several practical, task-oriented topics: identifying one’s core mission for the interim period, allaying colleagues’ fears, acquiring reliable information and triaging the issues that land in your inbox. But leading a college that includes a department of theater helped me recognize …

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Why you should hire me (feat. Hamilton)

[Anna writes..] I think I’d really enjoy being a costume designer, Broadway superstar, or Olympic gymnast. Unfortunately, I don’t exactly have the credentials for those positions. ​ Over here in reality, I will soon be “moving out of higher education in search of new challenges and opportunities” (thanks, Jobs on Toast). So I’m currently putting …

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Week 1 Reflection: Online Presence and Public Scholarship Working Group

In committing co-facilitating the Online Presence and Public Scholarship Working Group, I’ve also committed to meta & in-process reflection on the process so we can gather data and evidence to provide to the MSU Academic Advancement Network nodes as they’re engaged in finding ways to develop communities of practice that integrate across related disciplinary clusters …

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Tackling the Issue of Low Teacher Morale in Michigan and Beyond

Last month, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the Michigan Education Association (MEA) released survey results from a joint project assessing Michigan educators’ perceptions of the profession. In a presentation titled Dissed, Devalued, Demeaned, the two organizations painted a grim picture of teacher morale in Michigan. Nearly 11,000 educators participated in the survey last …

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Bringing Your CV to Life

Traditionally, a curriculum vitae (CV) is an articulation of one’s qualifications and accomplishments in an academic context. The Latin root of the term suggests the extent to which the CV indicates a “course of life.” Despite the dynamic and organic connotations of this Latin root, most CVs are printed documents updated periodically by faculty members …

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MSU Shadows

A year ago today, as I began my tenure as Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University, I made reference to a passage by Peter Raible, one that draws from Deuteronomy, in which he reminds us that “we sit in the shade of trees we did not plant.” Although I …

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Foo Camp 2016

I was at Foo Camp the last few days. This year they kept the size a bit lower (last year was kind of a zoo) and I thought the vibe was a lot more relaxed and fun. Many thanks to the O’Reilly folks for running this wonderful meeting and for inviting me. My first time …

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Going Viral With Your Scholarship

In a way, it all began with this picture. I was attending my first Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) conference in Ann Arbor to talk about digital scholarship and I didn’t know many people. I was committed to living out my fundamental commitment to use digital modes of communication to cultivate an academic community …

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Repurposing Your Scholarly Skills

About to start your first stint in academic leadership? Congratulations! Feeling apprehensive? That’s hardly surprising: many challenges are surely in your future. But you are probably more prepared than you think. This essay is aimed at faculty members who are planning to try their hands at academic leadership and are wondering whether they have what …

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Tightrope Walking in Heels

We’ve just finished hosting a Quantitative Biology Workshop at Spelman to attract our Atlanta-area colleagues and bring a few collaborators in town. In about a week, I’ll be at NSF for a panel. Somehow, I’m also moving in the midst of this… In trying to have some strategy so that I’ve got everything I need to …

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GIS. For the rest of us.

  Amanda Tickner, the new map librarian, lead the workshop This week I went to a workshop at the MSU Library titled “Making a choropleth map with graduated symbols,” mainly because the only word I understood in the title was “map.” The workshop was led by Amanda Tickner, the new map librarian and knower of all …

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Prepping for #DLRN15

Next week I’m headed to the The Digital Learning Research Network (dLRN) conference at Stanford.  The theme of the conference is Making Sense of Higher Education: Networks and Change. From the website: This conference will be of interest to researchers, academics, and practitioners who are exploring the many nuances of the complex and uncertain landscape of …

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And so sabbatical ends

Next week, my sabbatical officially ends. As you can imagine, I reenter the academic fray with mixed feelings and a bit of trepidation. I really, really enjoyed my sabbatical. I mean, I really enjoyed it. So much that around March or April, I started worrying about having to come back. But now I’m looking forward …

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Failure. Eep!

Failure. . . It sucks, but everyone successful has failed at some point, so it’s useful to talk about how to “fail well”. I was recently asked to share my thoughts on failure with a mentee, and how to avoid/overcome it. This is what I mean by “failing well”. To “fail well”, I mean to fail at something …

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Talent management, part 2

Last week I wrote about recruiting new faculty to the College of Education, and this week I turn to another important part of our efforts at developing and retaining faculty: the reappointment, promotion, and tenure review process, or RPT as it is known here at Michigan State. Like most universities, MSU has very detailed guidelines …

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Women in Weed Science article

-E. Hill Today the Weed Science Society of America released an article about women in weed science, which is particularly relevant since there are two women professors in weed science here at Michigan State University along with two staff members and several graduate students trained in the discipline. Please take time to read the article at …

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Gender trouble in the valley

This NYTimes article looks at the gender disparity in technology career success within the Stanford class of 1994. NYTimes: In the history of American higher education, it is hard to top the luck and timing of the Stanford class of 1994, whose members arrived on campus barely aware of what an email was, and yet …

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Scientists are not that smart

This article I am describing is more of an opinion piece than a scientific study, but I think it does cover some important points head-on for why non-scientist members of the general public may have false assumptions about scientists being smarter than non-scientists. I have had people tell me before that I must be really …

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Letter of resignation

Dear <chairs>, I am resigning my Assistant Professor position at Michigan State University effective January 2nd, 2015. Sincerely, CTB. Anticipated FAQ: Why? I’m moving to UC Davis. Do you have an employment contract with UC Davis?? Nope. But I’m starting there in January, anyway. Or that’s the plan. And yes, that’s how this kind of thing happen. …

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Wandering physicists

This is funny, and does capture the tendency of physicists (not just old ones) to wander into other fields. But the cartoon avoids the hard question (perhaps best addressed by historians of science) as to the actual value brought to other fields by physicists. See, for example, Physicists can do stuff, Prometheus in the basement, …

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