Archive: Jan 2014

Many institutions of higher education have a short term of classes between fall and spring semesters. Often in January, these “J-term” classes can be a way for students to pick up a few extra credits to either catch up or get ahead in plans to graduate in a timely manner. Here at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside this week wraps up a 4-week J-term session we call “Winterim.” (A quick aside: 3 days of classes were canceled because of bad weather!) For the most part, classes were scheduled as a result of instructor interest: an instructor would propose a course, and if it met minimum enrollment guidelines it was offered. In my college I also approved a couple of classes that were below minimum enrollment standards, but they were proposed by a graduate student and a brand new assistant professor, so I wanted to try and support them. Luckily we have a little bit of one-time extra money in the budget for this fiscal year, so we could do this.

Going forward I’d like to be more strategic in scheduling Winterim courses. Oh, we’ll still support instructor interest, but I also want to make sure that we have classes that support students’ timely degree process; e.g., we offer classes required by students’ majors. Also, with pending budget cuts we’ll have to make sure that all classes will attract enough enrollment to cover expenses…and maybe with luck we can make a profit that can be used to support other initiatives! Ah, the challenges of organizational leadership.

The blogosphere is abuzz this week about an Oxfam study that estimates that the net worth of the 85 richest individuals in the world equals that of the bottom half of the world population, 3.5 billion individuals. I won’t add any commentary about this extreme inequality (for that, see articles in places like The Atlantic, Slate, and the Huffington Post). I’ll just note that if anyone out there knows one of The Eighty-Five please urge them to share some of that wealth with universities to create more opportunities for our students!

We have reached the fundraising goal for the Social Sciences Kaleidoscope: $1200 to provide three $400 awards for students to engage external audiences about what they are learning & researching in the social sciences! Thanks to everyone who made a contribution and/or spread the word about the project. Next month students begin their projects, and I’ll post an update.

My college currently has a search for two new faculty members, and a pool of six finalists has been selected for on-campus interviews. Today I had a 30-minute meeting with the first candidate, and I’ve been scheduled to have similar meetings with the other five finalists. This is a new type of meeting for me, so this morning I was a bit nervous: “What should I ask these folks?!” In the end I decided that I’ll ask each person an opening question — “Why do you want to come to UW-Parkside?” — and then chat about differences between UW-Parkside and their current institutions. I’ll also give them plenty of time to ask me questions, and will leave time for the candidate to take a break before the next appointment in their hectic schedules. This plan worked well with the first candidate today, so I think that I’ll stick with it!