So when will I go to Rome next?

Folks from our language school partner in Rome and the interesting food studies institute which teaches a Food and Culture course some semesters (though not every program uses the GustoLab course) were in town this week. They wanted to know when I was coming back to Rome. I said 2017 (very sweetly they said things like “no, no – WITHOUT students! Surely sooner than that?”). What’s been going around the department this week makes me wonder if it won’t be Spring of 2018 before I lead another program.

Well, in that case I will CERTAINLY be there on my own, senza gli studenti, before then!

Are you old enough to start regretting things you won’t live long enough to read?

There are so many OLD things I won’t be able to read that I get frustrated, some times. Lately, I’m regretting future material blocked by current political prejudices that I would like to live past. For instance, I’m looking forward to some political history and biography, long about 2075, about the first decades of the 21st century.

Do you remember those incessant polls (frequently hosted by the History News Network, for instance) about how George W. Bush ranks with Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan among American presidents? I’m looking forward to some re-evaluations there. Of course, even James Earl Carter might profit from a little more distance.

Do you remember how Obama was so smart, so well-read, so going to reverse the rising sea levels (wasn’t that one of his OWN lines?)? I’m waiting for the transcripts to be released. We do Bush, Gore, and Kerry’s GPAs and SAT scores. I wonder if the Nobel Peace Prize rescindable?

We all know how transparent the current White House promised to be. Seen any examples lately? An administrative history of the IRS in the ‘teens will be an interesting start. What about a review of the Secret Service?

Remember due process? If you teach on a college campus, speaking about that memory might make you a dangerous subversive who needs to engage in some radical self-reappraisal before the Office of Civil Rights determines you can interact with students again. The most outrageous example of over reach by administrators I’ve heard about so far is in our admissions overlay. Google “Colgate” and “false imprisonment”. Really. Essay question: In what basement on your campus would the deans and the Title IX officers hold a student involuntarily and without outside contact?

Historia longa, vita brevis.

As the kids say: Wow. Just wow.

One of my really smart female colleagues just posted something on Facebook that more or less assumes that we have a lot of rich, privileged, white, male students who are used to getting things their own way and have certain kinds of sex with female partners which our rules consider rape.

I really want to walk a couple of doors down, knock, and ask if she has taught many of our rich, privileged, white, female students who are used to getting things their own way? Because it would surprise me if some of those women are not making non-credible accusations. Yeah, yeah, multiple negatives. I’m trying not to get sued.

We all need to back off and let the legal institutions do their work. Really. I’m happy to see male rapists expelled. I’m also happy to see female baseless-accusants expelled. But if you assume that the Late Capitalist Justice System is all a big charade, I guess you can assume that Cossacks are riding across campus raping women and children and getting away with it because, The Man.

Let’s not pretend there aren’t both. More of the former? Quite probably. A not-negligible number of the latter? Why not? I think we should do some social science about them both.

Where’s OUR Recovery?

College enrollment declined by close to half a million (463,000) between 2012 and 2013, marking the second year in a row that a drop of this magnitude has occurred. The cumulative two-year drop of 930,000 was larger than any college enrollment drop before the recent recession, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics from the Current Population Survey released today. The Census Bureau began collecting data on college enrollment in this survey in 1966.

Not pretty. And the figures are from the Feds – the link is to a census.gov website. Places like these Colleges survive by hiring more admissions office and working a LOT harder. We opened a permanent encampment on the West Coast (in Portland, but serves everything beyond Denver) to go with our folks stationed in the Boston Metro Area, the NYC area, and the DC area. Still, campus visits are down 20%?

I wonder if 4 year colleges are beginning to cannibalize 2 year admissions – or if folks at the 2 year level are just not starting?

via Instapundit

Busy day!

I just checked my school email for the first time since 8:00 a.m.! I don’t think I’ve gone that long on a school day in years!

8:45-10:10, Houghton House Seminar Room – Fsem – I divided the class in half and they debated the British Museum vs. the New Parthenon Museum, Athens, positions on the Parthenon Marbles – with 2 colleagues serving as judges. The BM prevailed on points.

10:10-11:30, Library Learning Suite 2  (yes, they started without me) – Subcommittee on Admissions and Retention. Interesting stuff. We seem to be doing better than many of our comparison group. One of my favorite recent advisees is emplaced admissions staff on the West Coast (he’s in Portland and covers the region).

11:55-1:20, Houghton House 112 – Roman Art and Power – numismatic presentations.

Whew.

Luckily, the email didn’t have any surprises, but I’m off in a bit for a Tenure Committee meeting on Campus, then back to Houghton House for Architectural Studies info session for First Years (yes, I’m on the steering committee and really should start going to those).

Going fast!

I’m already well into week 4. At the end of this week we have Family Weekend and Homecoming! Zipping right along!

My European Studies 101 has just pulled out of the Old Testament into the Greeks. We’re reading Hesiod first, then some lyric poets, then Plato’s Symposium. I really do like Hesiod’s Theogony more each time I read it – his origin myths are so – um – human and relational. His definition of deity is, essentially, immortality, but it’s not eternity, because every god has a parent (and sometimes two).

Campus Open House

It’s all hands on deck this year for open houses.

After the story about a rape at HWS was on the front page of a Sunday edition of the New York Times this summer, we lived in anticipation of a global-warming melt of admitted students. But no! The theory out of Admissions is that they were already committed enough to come anyway.

Here’s the problem. Campus visits are down something like 25% so far this year. Usually a very high proportion of those who visit campus eventually apply. What no one knows (because colleges don’t disclose this sort of thing) is whether it’s JUST US or whether other colleges and universities with similar cases are having recruiting trouble. There are something like 75 now with public investigations by the Office of Civil Rights – from Yale, Amherst, Swarthmore, on down. We also wonder why WE got the NYT front page story, when plenty of other campuses are under investigation for more than one complaint – we have only one complaint, horrific though it is.

Whatever the case, I was on campus today giving tours of the art facilities to prospectives and their families.

Click here for a page from the campus website – which is clearly linked from the splash page www.hws.edu – talk about disclosure! The organization is a bit messy – the NYT story is at the bottom.

Long first day

My MWF class this semester met from 9:05-10:00. Good group! Too many…let’s hope I was scary enough. Then I had to hang around until 5 for Convocation. Honestly, the speeches were more pedestrian than usual. The keynote was mildly inspiring, but he certainly didn’t say anything everyone who reads news doesn’t know about HIV/AIDS.

Where are all those polls of historians about presidential rankings?

Remember what an world-class awful president George W. Bush was? American historians and political scientists eagerly published polls that proved he ranks with Millard Fillmore and James Buchanan.

Somehow, I haven’t seen any recent rankings of Obama.  Cowards.

There are going to be some very interesting actual histories written of the first decades of the 21st century, but it will take a long while for honesty to set in.

The First Year students get here tomorrow –

. . . and as per usual, I’m more worried about their parents than about them. The little lambkins will be shell-shocked and ready for a nap by the time I see them at 2:45 p.m. In fact, I always think I might just as productively play soft music and let them snooze for an hour as try to talk to them about their college careers on the first day they arrive.

One week and counting…

The First Year Students get here Friday, but classes start a week from today. Syllabus time for almost everyone. Some of the architecture students who are back (I guess folks who are TAs or assistants) were cleaning out last year’s models. Construction was going ahead noisily for the Performing Arts Center on Pulteney – and I’m afraid Pulteney is going to be an awful mess all weekend.

I did a good bit of laundry this afternoon to try to get ahead of the curve!

New Faculty Orientation

I attended a reception yesterday evening for new faculty members and their families. For a good number, this will be their first year of a tenure track job. For the rest, it’s the start of a year of the temporary appointment system (I think all these folks were full time). At least at an event like this we make no distinction, but it’s just under the surface.

Of course I started here at these Colleges on a one year contract, which transmogrified into a 2 year contract by November (they had already figured out that I wasn’t an axe murderer). I didn’t get on the tenure track until year 5, and came up for tenure in year 8. In other words, I’m an unrealistic optimist about my own career, like many people who start Ph.d. programs. More depressing to think about than how closely we’ll stick to these syllabi this semester!