Lessons from the Dragon Boat
None of us knew quite what to expect on Saturday as we gathered at Hawk Island for our one-hour training session for the Capital City Dragon Boat Race to support the Women’s Resource Center of Greater Lansing. Earlier this year, my wife, Val, suggested that the MSU College of Arts & Letters might pull a team together for the race, and she and Melissa Staub, Executive Assistant to the Dean, had been organizing our team, the Jabberwocks, for a few months. But no one on our team of faculty, staff, students, family and friends had any real experience racing dragon boats, so we arrived at Hawk Island for training with plenty of enthusiasm, but little understanding of the intricacies of the sport. Read More
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff in the College of Arts & Letters:
Many of you have written to express your concern about the executive order signed by the President of the United States on January 27, 2017, that bars Syrian refugees and blocks citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
We have students and faculty scholars here now from countries identified in this executive order. Each one of you enriches our community and advances our academic mission. We will do everything in our power to ensure that you are safe, supported, and empowered to be successful.
The College of Arts & Letters is committed to putting the arts of liberty into practice in our relationships with one another and in the ways we pursue our scholarship, teaching, and learning. At Michigan State University, the liberal arts are rooted in the three core values of our world-grant mission: quality, inclusiveness, and connectivity. As President Simon has emphasized, the January 27th executive order is a threat to each.
What impedes the free flow of people and ideas, impoverishes the quality of the education we offer and receive.
What destroys our respect for differences, diminishes our capacities to connect across cultures to address the deepest challenges we face.
What prevents us from traveling abroad and welcoming newcomers to campus, perverts our ability to include the most talented people, whatever their background, religion, or country of origin, in a vibrant and open community capable of creating a more just and beautiful world.
As I considered how best to respond in this situation, I turned to my colleague Mohammad Khalil, who pointed me to a passage from the 13th century Persian Sunni Muslim poet, Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī. In a single sentence,1 Rūmī captures something of the spirit of a world-grant university committed to putting the arts of liberty into practice.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
May these words be for you what they have been for me: a reminder in a time of uncertainty that our deepest values only have impact when we find the courage to put them into action.
Christopher P. Long
Dean, College of Arts & Letters
Whenever I talk to faculty and students about the use of social media in the academy, I advocate for a community building approach. The idea is relatively simple: communication has the power to enrich or impoverish our relationships with one another; we should resist impoverishing and cultivate enriching practices of social media communications.
However simple the idea, putting it into practice is difficult.
Adopting enriching practices of communication is difficult in every context, but it is made more difficult in a social media context in part because we have horrible models and in part because social media is often not taken seriously as a space for genuine relationship building.
In the interest of highlighting examples of how I try to cultivate community around my administrative and academic life, I thought I would curate three recent stories that were encouraging to me.
Online Scholarly Presence
In my role as Dean of the College of Arts & Letters, I have been advocating strongly for the importance of cultivating elegant and eloquent online spaces for our faculty and students to give voice to their intellectual life. I have tried myself to model this through cplong.org.
To facilitate this, we entered into agreement with Reclaim Hosting to provide free web hosting to all faculty and graduate students in the College. As we told the story through YouTube and Twitter, the initiative has started to catch on across MSU:
Listen to the Twitter exchange that followed in which I responded to Sarah Dysart’s enthusiasm with an offer to collaborate and Leigh Graves and Scott Schopieray took up the thread to put it into practice through an initiative shared between the College of Arts & Letters and the College of Education.
As Sarah suggests, this exchange demonstrates the power of Twitter to create real connections across campus, networks that will advance our shared attempts to facilitate public engagement with the scholarship of our faculty and students.
A Deepening Sense of Place
As second example comes from a name we found etched into a 135-year old window in Linton Hall. After it was pointed out to me, I took a picture and tweeted:
Found in Linton Hall: "C.P. Baker MAC Class of 1891" etched into 2nd floor window of original board room. Legit? pic.twitter.com/wIb7Idy10W— Chris Long (@cplong) May 20, 2016
Despite my mis-reading of C.F. as C.P., the archeology group on campus responded:
The MSU Archives then joined the discussion:
These resources, provided by generous colleagues, allowed me to craft a welcome letter to our incoming class of 2020 around the story of C.F. Baker:
The third example to which I’d point concerns the use of Twitter among administrators. Last year, as a new Dean at MSU, I sought to use Twitter not only to celebrate the work of faculty and students in the College of Arts & Letters, but also to deepen my relationships with my dean colleagues. And yes, we had some fun along the way (#DeansLookingOutWindows).
As we thought about welcoming a new group of deans to campus this semester, we decided to adopt #SpartanDeans as a way to celebrate the work we are doing individually and in collaboration:
These interactions led to the collaborative welcome video for new students at Michigan State University which I’ll conclude:
Dear College of Arts & Letters Class of 2020,
Welcome to Michigan State University!
As you begin your journey in the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University, let me tell you a secret.
Scratched into the corner of a 135-year old window in Linton Hall is the name of a student who graduated in 1891 from what was then referred to as the Michigan Agricultural College. His name is C.F. Baker; and he is but one of the thousands of graduates who precede you.
Like the man himself, whose scholarly contributions, it was said after his death, “were all too obscured by his indifference to public recognition,” the name etched in glass goes largely unnoticed. Yet, once it is called to your attention, you can’t enter the room without some awareness of the presence of C.F. Baker.
He was a scientist and an educator, the embodiment of an idea that has long stood at the heart of the Michigan State University land-grant mission to “advance knowledge and transform lives.”
After graduating, he received a master’s degree from Stanford, and his desire to advance human knowledge of entomology and fungi led him to the Philippines where the specimens he gathered significantly enriched the collection of the Smithsonian, to whom they passed upon his death in 1927.
During his time in the Philippines, he helped found the Philippine College of Agriculture, fought tirelessly for appropriations and, in his role as Dean, “sought eagerly for a faculty fired by a kindred zeal to his own.”
The tenacity, humility, and diligent commitment to excellence we’ve come to associate with what it means to be a Spartan were handed down to us from predecessors like C.F. Baker, who wrote that one of his most cherished principles was not to give up, who inspired his students — he “could capture their imaginations and stir their hopes as no other member of the faculty could” — who followed his research wherever it led him, and who left a mark, not only here on campus, but on the lives of those he met and on the world he loved.
As you begin your time here on campus, I encourage you to take full advantage of all that Michigan State University has to offer. Explore different majors, embrace the research endeavor, pursue an internship, and study abroad (more than once).
And as you chart a path of your own, pursue excellence in your chosen field of study, and seek to make the world into which you will graduate a better, more beautiful, and more just place, keep the spirit of predecessors like C.F. Baker close to you as a model of what a Spartan’s Will can do.
Welcome home, Spartan Class of 2020.
Christopher P. Long, Dean
College of Arts & Letters
In the wake of last week’s violence, we have again become caught up in the fraught dichotomy into which public discourse always seems to force us. It is as if somehow the human capacity to hold complex thoughts consistently together dissolves the moment ideas enter the public sphere.
The heartbreaking killings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Louisiana require us to face the pathological pattern of violence white police officers continue to perpetrate on fellow African American citizens even as we mourn and denounce the assassination of police officers in Dallas.
The situation, our situation today in the United States, demands something difficult of us. It requires us to come to terms with the long and abiding history of racism that was woven into the fabric of the American experience long before it was ratified and legitimized in the texts of our founding documents.
There is no short term solution for this endemic racism and injustice. But there is a longer, more difficult path on which we might embark that will, over time, enable us to create a more just and a more perfect union.
It is the path of a certain kind of education, a liberal arts education deeply attuned to the fraught and broken world we share yet committed to cultural engagement and social justice.
A culturally engaged liberal arts education facilitates the capacity of citizens to respond to complexity with nuance and grace, and it deepens our shared commitment to make the world a better, more just, place.
Nuance is vital, because it involves the ability to discern the texture of a situation, to recognize how history saturates the present, how the contours of experience and identity and interest intersect, playing themselves out in our interactions and through our institutions. Grace, however, it’s vital too, because it empowers us to navigate our relationships with one another elegantly, that is, in ways that affirm and honor the experiences of others so that we might begin to move together toward a justice broader and more enduring than our finite selves.
These capacities for nuance and grace, however, remain impotent unless they are enlivened by an intentional choice to weave a commitment to justice into our relationships with one another.
The sort of liberal arts education we are seeking to cultivate in the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University is grounded in the belief that our deepest divisions, our most enduring social and political challenges, can only be redressed by a citizenry capable of and committed to pursuing justice with nuance and grace.
Ours is a vision of the liberal arts endeavor deeply rooted in the University’s mission to transform the lives of our students and improve the life of our shared body politic.
To begin to put this vision of a culturally engaged liberal arts education animated by a commitment to justice into practice, we must redress our collective failure to educate a more diverse generation of faculty. This is why we have focused significant attention on graduate education, and specifically, on recruiting graduate students like Shenika Hankerson, who brings her rich understanding of cultural practices to her research in ways that cultivate an appreciation of and respect for difference.
An education in the liberal arts is an education in the art of the possible. In the wake of the events of the past week, in the wake of the long history of racism this country continues to endure, it is all too easy to remain pinned like butterflies, as James Baldwin put it.
The harder path is the longer road we embark upon whenever we take up the liberal arts endeavor and seek the justice that is possible despite the very real injustices we continue so poignantly to encounter.
Cross posted on Medium:
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 didn’t realize it at the time, this passage resonates with the MSU alma mater, which speaks to the shadows cast on campus “when twilight silence falls.”
The passage and the song are important to me because they serve as reminders that we benefit from the vision and commitment of those who came before us, and that we have an obligation to build upon the legacy we have inherited so that when our “twilight shadows fade,” there will be shade enough of trees for generations to follow.
Since my arrival, we have sought to plant new seeds that will enrich the academic experience for future students and faculty of Michigan State University.
Among many other things, we have nurtured success among our faculty through the Summer Faculty Fellowship initiative; we have invested in our graduate students through our External Funding Incentive Program; we have advanced the diversity and quality of our undergraduate students through the creation of our signature Citizen Scholars program; and we have recognized the important work of our staff through the creation of two new staff awards.
It’s been a year of sowing.
And even as we pause for a moment to look back, we look forward to reaping what we have sown.
The 2016 Dean’s Report, to be released on July 11th, draws on what we have accomplished to date in order to advance a vision of the College for the future. To this end, we have sought to focus our message on the Liberal Arts Endeavor, which requires us to cultivate in ourselves and our students the ability to communicate with eloquence, embrace diversity with grace, perceive globally with imagination, and respond to complexity with nuance.
More specifically, the report focuses on three dimensions of the Liberal Arts Endeavor: how we are enriching the undergraduate experience, engaging graduate students in advanced scholarship to prepare the next generation of faculty, and excelling in recruiting and retaining a world-class faculty. Each of these elements — enriching, engaging, excelling — are anchored by a video that speaks to one aspect of the Liberal Arts Endeavor and introduces a concrete example of how we are putting our values into practice.
Rather than attempting to summarize all of our many accomplishments this year, we have sought instead to present a vision that will enrich the lives of those future faculty and students who will gather beneath the pines where light and shadows play.
Here is a teaser video for the 2016 Dean’s Report:
Lists are the current vernacular of the internet. There is even a social media site, li.st, wholly dedicated to the creation and sharing of lists of all sorts. So, as I considered how I might share a few things that, in my experience, facilitate academic collaboration, I thought I’d try the idiom of the list:
This post on Medium initiates an experiment in public writing designed to facilitate transparency and refine my thinking in relation to issues I face in my role as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University.
I welcome engagement here on the Long Road or there on Medium.
When I write regularly, I think I’m a better administrator — probably a better husband and father, certainly a better scholar.
Writing affords me an opportunity to slow down and reflect, to craft a thought or articulate an idea. It gives me pause, and it opens a space for me to think holistically and strategically. Writing pulls me out of the busy-ness that captures so much of the time each day.
In a scholarly context, I have long understood that my own position only really emerges when I begin to write in earnest. Prior to that, I am a gatherer. My mind is open to possibilities and widely varying interpretations — or it is at least on my good days.
But writing brings things into focus.
Of course, as Socrates famously reminds Phaedrus, writing also has a tendency to calcify ideas. If in writing, my position finds its voice, in writing too, that voice becomes inert.
Yet, the affordances of digital modes of public writing can breathe life into those ideas that, in being written, too easily calcify into doctrine.
In my role as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State, I am all too aware of how my words are parsed each day, as colleagues attempt to discern what my position is and where they stand in relation to it.
We have, of course, many ways of communicating with a variety of different audiences associated with the College. The good work of Ryan Kilcoyne and his communication team ensure that the material we share publicly is carefully crafted and strategically designed. Our blog, the Long View, enables us to highlight and share more fully polished ideas and initiatives.
But what I am missing is a way to think out loud without each word being received as College doctrine, as The Position of the Dean. What I hope to open here on @Medium is a space in which to cultivate the habit of reflective writing along the way, even in the messiness of the everyday work of being a Dean at a major research university.
So, to begin, let’s agree, that if you read it here, it is unfinished. If it is written here, it is open to revision. And if you are interested in helping to shape the thinking you encounter here, you are invited to comment and to lend your voice in writing to what I write here.
So with more than a little trepidation, and with some concern that I will now have publicly committed to do something I am ultimately unable to accomplish, I’d like to try to use @Medium as a platform for this sort of public reflective writing along the way.
I welcome fellow travelers in this endeavor, but I ask for your patience and generosity. This is an experiment, an attempt to write publicly in a way that will help me continue to focus on what is most important to me: to cultivate a culture of excellence in the College of Arts and Letters, to embody dialogical transparency, and to live out a commitment to the transformative power of education.
At the beginning of the Physics, Aristotle captures something of the essence of the liberal arts and sciences as an endeavor. This path from the surface of things to a deeper understanding of their nature is the common root of all disciplines in the liberal arts and sciences; it is the passage from a superficial encounter with the environment to a more substantive engagement with the complexity of the world we inhabit.
Being something of a productivity geek, I jumped at the opportunity … and quickly added an item to my OmniFocus Task List to write a
I was asked to facilitate a discussion about productivity and administration with my Associate Dean colleagues on the Academic Council for Undergraduate Education (ACUE) at Penn State.
Being something of a productivity geek, I jumped at the opportunity … and quickly added an item to my OmniFocus Task List to write a
short blog post about it.
In the winter of 1988, during my freshman year at Wittenberg University, I took Professor Warren Copeland’s Introduction to Ethics: Racism course. This course and its sister, Advanced Ethics: Racism, which I took the following winter, were two of the most transformative courses of my liberal arts education.
The Information Technology unit at Penn State holds IT Matters breakfasts a few times a year. This semester I joined colleagues on stage to talk about my work and how it intersects with IT at Penn State.
Because we have partnered with Brad Koslek and the TLT Studio to create a dynamic online space of dialogue and conversation about General Education reform at Penn State, they asked me about the PSUGenEd reform process. My 4 minute riff on GenEd, its importance, and how we are trying to change it at Penn State is embedded below.
Our partnership with the TLT Studio has gone some distance in modeling a way of using digital media to cultivate community around an important education reform issue. Because Penn State is a single university geographically dispersed, the GenEd Matters site has become a kind of marketplace of ideas and information about the GenEd reform process. We have sought to include a wide public in these conversations and, as a result, we have received an enormous amount of very helpful feedback on the process and suggestions for the emerging curriculum.
The site is continually being updated, its functionality improved even as we use it to engage in conversation. It’s a little like rebuilding the ship of Theseus as we sail it. Still, it is an intensely collaborative endeavor as we think about how design impacts discussion and how transformative reform can be undertaken in and with a thoughtful public.
You are invited to watch the video and join the conversation.
We at Penn State are engaged in an intense, ongoing and, in my view, very healthy dialogue about General Education reform.
We at Penn State are engaged in an intense, ongoing and, in my view, very healthy dialogue about General Education reform.
In order to integrate the research endeavor into the undergraduate experience, we ought to more intentionally engage leaders of our university institutes and college centers as we develop coordinated clusters of courses around specific research themes.
I have always sought to integrate my philosophical commitments into my administrative life.
I have always sought to integrate my philosophical commitments into my administrative life.
So, when Noëlle McAfee came to campus to deliver a paper entitled, “Deliberation and the Affective Dimensions of Public Will-formation,” I found myself returning to the question of general education reform at Penn State.
In her address to the Committee on Institutional Cooperation‘s Academic Leadership Program at the University of Chicago last Thursday, Martha Nussbaum offered a compelling defense of a liberal arts education. She advocated for an education for democracy in the face of increased global emphasis on education for economic growth.
In the United States and around the world education policy has come to be driven by a concern more for economic growth than for a flourishing democracy. One need only look as far as the 2006 Spellings Report (pdf) to see this trend at work:
“America’s national capacity of excellence, innovation and leadership in higher education will be central to our ability to sustain economic growth and social cohesiveness. Our colleges and universities will be a key source of the human and intellectual capital needed to increase workforce productivity and growth.” (Spellings, 7)
Nussbaum sought instead to articulate a set of educational virtues for democracy around which our institutions of higher education should mobilize. The three on which she focused were:
- Socratic self-criticism: the ability to argue coherently, to criticize thoughtfully and to hold one another accountable for the implications of our political policies and beliefs;
- Becoming a citizen of the world: the ability to understand and converse about global problems, the recognition that we are part of a global community;
- Narrative imagination: the ability to “read” the stories of others, to recognize that everyone has a internal life and a set of motivations that determines the way they relate to others.
These three virtues, decisive for the long term well-being of democracy, are cultivated largely through the traditional liberal arts curriculum which is increasingly under attack by those pressing for a more focused, narrower, professional education oriented toward economic growth.
As the Academic Leadership program at the University of Chicago unfolded, the tension between an education for democracy and an education for economic growth came more fully into focus. When we turned our attention to the research mission of the University, it seemed that the economic argument for research came to eclipse the concern for the virtues of democracy for which Nussbaum advocated.
Joseph Walsh, Vice President for Research at Northwestern University, began his presentation by emphasizing the educational mission of research, suggesting that in the classroom, we teach our students, but with research, we teach the wider world. However, he focused most of his comments on those research discoveries at Northwestern that had the most palpable impact on the economy, reminding us that four-fifths of all economic growth comes from technological development, and that much of that development happens at research universities. In this context, he outlined the argument he offers to the politicians in Washington whose funding support research universities seek: economic growth is driven by the research done at our best research universities; funding research increases employment opportunities. It is all about “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
As we returned from Chicago, I found myself reflecting on this tension between education for democracy and education for economic growth. Then, we were lucky enough to miss our connection from Dulles to State College. I say ‘lucky’ here, because the long drive from Dulles offered a number of us the opportunity to talk further about our experience at the University of Chicago. Driving through rural Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, we began to focus our attention on what a major land-grant research university has to offer students educationally that they can’t get from smaller, private liberal arts colleges. We kept coming back to the research mission of the university.We began to consider ways to integrate the research enterprise more tightly into the undergraduate experience at Penn State. Students need to be exposed to the passion for discovery that animates all great research endeavors. They need more opportunities to work closely with our research professors so that they might feel the power and excitement of research as an educational endeavor. To accomplish this on a grand scale at Penn State would likely require substantive changes to the general education curriculum and other significant financial resources, but I am convinced that if we are able to integrate the research enterprise more deeply into the undergraduate experience, we will have begun to cultivate in our students the very virtues Nussbaum suggests are critical for a flourishing democracy. Students engaged with research will learn self-criticism, the concerns of a global community and narrative imagination as they come to experience precisely these abilities at work in our most excellent academic researchers.
Following such a path at Penn State would, I imagine, illustrate the extent to which economic growth is not so much a goal of research, but an important, albeit secondary, outgrowth of an education rooted in traditional liberal arts virtues infused with a deep engagement with the research enterprise. Perhaps an education for democracy can also be an education for economic growth–the history of the American land-grant system of higher education seems to suggest that this is precisely the case. Perhaps the best way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act is to redouble our efforts to combine rigorous research with the long standing virtues of an education in the liberal arts.
ANN ARBOR, MI – The story I told at the 2011 meeting of the Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) conference is rooted in my pedagogical practices of using digital media technology to cultivate communities of learning in the classroom. The story itself is told at a moment of intense transformation in education as we move from a culture of print scholarship to that of digital scholarship. The main thesis of the presentation is that by drawing on the best virtues of both print and digital scholarship a new educational model capable of transforming the culture of the university itself can be developed.
In the presentation, I attempt to articulate how I have sought to translate those pedagogical practices associated with digital scholarship — openness and collaboration – with those practices associated with print scholarship — careful review and the certification of expertise — into both my scholarly and my administrative practices.
In the presentation I did not have enough time to talk about the details of the work we are doing in the College of the Liberal Arts to cultivate a digital culture of scholarship. When I started as Associate Dean, we hired John Dolan at Director of Digital Media and Pedagogy in the College. Last summer we held our first Liberal Arts Scholarship and Technology workshop for faculty and graduate students in the Liberal Arts. John has been working with both faculty and staff to find new ways to use digital media to enrich our work in the College of the Liberal Arts.
- Teaching Rubric (pdf) for Blogs
- Abstract on my article in Teaching Philosophy entitled: “Cultivating Communities of Learning with Digital Media: Cooperative Education through Blogging and Podcasting.”
- Videos by Christopher Long related to teaching and learning with technology.
- The Digital Dialogue Podcast
- The Digital Dialogue Facebook page
- The Digital Dialogue Wiki (full list of episodes)
- The Digital Dialogue on Google Plus
- Abstract of my article on the Protagoras and the episode of the Digital Dialogue that discusses it.
- Digital Research in the Liberal Arts: This blog is co-authored by faculty in the College of the Liberal Arts doing academic scholarship using digital media.
- Instructional Space at Penn State Task Force Blog: This blog is part of our attempt to up a university wide discussion about instructional space and scheduling. It is an example of how I have sought to use what I learned in my teaching with technology in my administrative work.
Sometimes without looking, one finds a paradigm – an example that can serve as a model.
Last week I visited Indiana University as a one of Penn State’s Academic Leadership Fellows in the Academic Leadership Program of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (Big 10 Academic Alliance).
I went expecting to hear administrators from across the Big Ten speak about best administrative practices and about the role of the public research university in the 21st century. Although I received what I expected in that sense, I did not anticipate encountering a figure who embodied some of my own most deeply held educational convictions: Herman B. Wells.
Wells, who died in 2000, was the 11th president of Indiana University. Born in 1902, he was the youngest state university president at the age of 36, in 1937. While there are many important contributions Wells made to the educational mission of Indiana University, I would like to focus here on three, each of which embodies one of the themes that became important to me during the seminar at Indiana University entitled The Evolving University.
In 1958, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation was established by the presidents of the Big Ten Conference. Herman B Wells was one of its founding members and lasting champions. As I listened to former president of Michigan University, James Duderstadt, speak at Indiana about the importance of increased collaboration between public universities in the 21st century, the foresight of Wells and his generation of presidents came into focus.
Duderstadt described a 21st century world that does not respect traditional boundaries between regions and geopolitical borders. He spoke about the need for more collaboration between universities and the hope that we might reduce the zero sum attitude that establishes intensely competitive relationships between us and places us in extremely predatory environments with one another. The vision of cooperation Wells laid out and helped put into practice, places the CIC universities in a strong position to cultivate yet more cooperative relationships given the 50 year history of collaboration and interaction on which we can draw.
Wells was well known as an advocate for student self-governance, for a desegregated university and for academic freedom. He worked tirelessly and unobtrusively to end racial segregation in the dining halls and on campus housing; he protected Alfred Kinsey’s controversial and ground breaking research on human sexuality, and he worked to preserve the woods on campus. These are all elements of what I would call his highly cultivated ethical imagination: the ability to imagine one’s way into the position of each individual other. Wells held office hours for students, and they came to talk with him about their individual experiences. He signed each individual diploma himself, over 62,000 of them, because he wanted “a sense of direct identification with each graduate.”
This capacity for ethical imagination serves as a model for what is possible when administrative service is able to make decisions for the mission of the university by attending carefully and with care to each individual member of the community.
In her remarks, Provost Karen Hanson spoke of the suspicions faculty have about administrators. She traced that suspicion to the late ’60’s and early ’70s when the institutional authority of universities were called into question. She then spoke about the qualities of a good administrator: the ability to disagree without being retributive, the need to be open and patient, circumspection. She also reminded us that the word “administer” derives from the Latin, “ministrare“, which means “to serve”.
I left Indiana with a much deeper appreciation of the nature of administration as a way of serving.
Wells put it this way: “Remind yourself daily that general administration must be the servant, never the master, of the academic community. It is not an end unto itself and exists only to further the academic enterprise.”
And as we left Indiana, the news about the Sandusky indictment broke, and we returned to a Penn State transformed. In the week since, the nature of administration as service and the need for ethical imagination and cooperation have taken on a deeper and more urgent meaning.