The programs pay for themselves

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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 (e.g., students’ a-ha moments about social issues, faculty members’ improved interdepartmental communication via book-related programming). In a way, I ended up feeling that the fundamental coercive element at play in this study was the specter of program cancelation (e.g., for lack of student results). …


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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.

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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 student academic success, its value is in what the program contributes to the campus climate as a whole. A strong common book program creates a united campus and community culture. …


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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 that you have data that demonstrate the need for your proposed initiative (which needs to include specific data drawn from your campus) and data from other institutions that have proposed similar programs in order to show that your program has a good chance of achieving the outcomes you intend. …

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

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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 need an escape. …

About

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.

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