Image for post
Image for post
Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

During a faculty meeting, when I see my colleagues’ faces in Brady Bunch boxes on Zoom, I can’t help but imagine what they must be thinking and feeling. As I try to provide what updates I can on university- and college-level decisions during this complicated time and express my gratitude for their dedication to educating our students, I suspect that instead of really hearing what I’m saying, a lot of their attention is elsewhere.

When we meet on Zoom and, frequently, when we communicate by email, I imagine that the exhaustion and frustration that my faculty feels overwhelms their ability…


The programs pay for themselves

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Tom Hermans on Unsplash

In the conclusion to his 2019 dissertation, Selecting the Common Book: Anarchy and Ambiguity in Action, Adam M. Brazil broadens his discussion of the common book selection process to consider more broadly the status of common book programs or common reading experiences (CREs) and the pressures that can be brought to bear on these programs:

. . .all of the CRE administrators with whom I spoke perseverated to some extent on the pressure to define and measure exactly how CREs achieved their stated goals. Yet, all of them recognized implicitly or explicitly that some of the CRE’s results were intangible…


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash; Photo by Standsome Worklifestyle on Unsplash; Photo courtesy of Adobe Spark

We know that when the pandemic ends, our universities will be asking questions about what we have learned from this mess. The conversation has already started. What new strategies that we were forced to adopt in 2020 ought we to keep? What will we want to abandon as quickly as possible? …


A strong common book program creates a united campus and community culture.

Image for post
Image for post
Image by Dariusz Sankowski from Pixabay

Hundreds of colleges and universities recognize that a common book program is a good thing, the National Association of Scholars and Mitch Daniels notwithstanding. Solid data to defend that statement is hard to come by, but I know it is true. Campuses began common book programs because of research by George Kuh that indicated that shared intellectual experiences lead to stronger student learning and increased student retention and graduation rates. There are several ways to create shared intellectual experiences for students, of course, but a strong common book program has a unique value. In addition to its role in encouraging…


Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Jennifer Griffin on Unsplash

Based on my 37 years of experience working at public universities, my seven years of experience as an associate dean, my seven years of experience as an associate provost, and my current experience as a dean, here are my suggestions for those who want to create culture change on their college and university campuses.

  1. Do your research. I don’t just mean you should research the change you want to institute. I mean that you need to research your campus so that your proposed action targets a specific concern that a critical mass of people share. You need to be sure…

Binge Watch The Handmaid’s Tale and CBS’s Perry Mason

Image for post
Image for post
Photo credits: https://tenor.com/view/perry-mason-gif-18025441; https://giphy.com/gifs/handmaids-xT9IguxOugw6KwaANy

Those of us who work on university campuses and who love the process of helping college students develop their intellectual skills and refine their professional goals have had hard several months. After a day of thinking professionally about teaching modalities, budget uncertainties, exhausted faculty, tech-challenged students, campus health and safety protocols, planning for spring 2021, the implications of Executive Order 13950, etc; and of thinking personally about my family’s health and finances, the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, natural disasters exacerbated by climate change (I learned the word, “gigafire,” recently), increasing governmental authoritarianism, and the impending election, I…

Constance Relihan

Academic Dean and English Professor. Proponent of a broad and deep general education for all undergraduate students and a lover of public universities.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store