Sunday, February 28, 2010


Sorry for the radio silence; I've been out of town collecting data.


There are tribal colleges in Canada and the U.S., but universities, not so much - and now there is one fewer.

One response to the Dodge Super Bowl commercial.

I love chicken-crossing-the-road jokes. And here are more.

I've been disheartened by how much of the commentary around the Amy Bishop case has suggested that tenure, or race, or something, drove her to kill her colleagues. No. Being unhinged is what leads someone to do that kind of thing; triggers aren't causes. Here is a good take on it.

White supremacists more tolerant of homosexuality than you might think; also, funny picture.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Dissertation update

Wondering how my dissertation is coming along? Wonder no more!
  • This Saturday I will be attending a workshop at the Vanderbilt Writing Studio on revising the dissertation.
  • I leave town Sunday to do data collection at one of my three sites. I should be back some time Thursday.
  • Last week, I submitted an article based on my quantitative analysis to a journal.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tax time

I was prepared to begin my taxes, I thought, and was looking forward to an easy time of it - all I did in 2009 was work for Vanderbilt, and I keep my Bolivian tin mine investing under the table.* Then a form 1099-MISC came in the mail for some income I had forgotten. (Hey, I was paid in early 2009 - for work done in mid 2008. Was it any wonder it had receded into the mists of time?)

The form itself fascinates me. Some of the categories on it are straightforward, such as "1 Rents" and "4 Federal income tax withheld." Others are much more interesting: "5 Fishing boat proceeds" - "10 Crop insurance proceeds" - and (my favorite) "13 Excess golden parachute payments." Alas, I have nothing in any of these categories.

*Dear IRS: I don't actually invest in Bolivian tin mines. Please don't audit me.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

AERA scheduling

The AERA conference schedule is finally up, and am I disappointed!

One thing you need to know about AERA is that it is huge, because it covers every aspect of education - financing public universities, teaching reading to autistic children, improving principal education, the state of access to education for girls in Uganda. So even though 13,000 people attend, there still aren't that many sessions in any one area.

In my area of higher education philanthropy, in fact, there is one session. (It's being put on by my colleague Noah Drezner.) Naturally, this would be at the top of my must-attend list.

Except, really it's second. The number-one session for me is, of course, the session I'm presenting in (it's a poster session and thus a pretty mixed bag). Guess what time it is? Hint: I won't be attending Noah's symposium.

But, you say, surely it's not the ONLY session you are interested in. Well, no. There's a paper about boards of trustees being presented at a roundtable which sounds quite interesting. I could go to that, surely ... if it weren't at the very same time. Then my colleague David Weerts is doing a roundtable, and there's a paper on the effect of prestige on alumni giving.

So out of four sessions (excluding mine) I'd like to attend, there are only two I can make, through no fault of my own. This also means that the people who are interested in my poster aren't likely to make it to my session - they're going to be at Noah's symposium.

Yes, there are a lot of sessions to organize. But most people tend to stick within one division, and the number of presentations for Division J (higher education) this year looks something like this*: 20 symposia; 230 papers in sessions of 4 each, or 56 paper sessions; 70 roundtables; and 134 posters. They run a lot of posters and roundtables at the same time, so let's say there are 2 sessions of each. That's 80 sessions overall, out of about 25 time slots. So there's three Division J sessions at any given time - it shouldn't be hard to avoid topic overlap.

Except, if you're astute, you'll notice that of my three overlapping sessions, one is a poster session and one is a roundtable. Problem: these sessions cover so many topics, there is bound to be overlap. For example, at 10:35 on May 1, there are 19 roundtable sessions of about five thematically-grouped papers each (not all are higher education). But this is fixable, too, with one of two solutions: 1) Run posters (and possibly roundtables) at their own time, like ASHE does. 2) Instead of running 19 roundtables at once, get a smaller freaking room and run only a few at a time, but ensure their topics don't overlap with paper sessions in the same division at the same time.

I know, I've never been in the no-doubt difficult position of having to arrange sessions, so there are undoubtedly subtleties I am missing. But this is one of the reasons I find attending AERA so frustrating, and one reason I'm likely to stop attending once I'm out of graduate school.

*based on accepted proposals. If there's something wrong with my math, correct me.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Job news

I just got my first of these letters for the job season:

"Thank you for your interest in the higher education position in [Department X]. I regret to inform you that funding for position has been withdrawn because of the continuing budgetary restraints encountered by [our fair state]. Please be assured that withdrawal of funding for this position in no way reflects on the quality of your application."

I'm actually surprised this is the first letter I've seen like this; last year there were quite a few more. But it's good to know they don't want me to feel responsible for the recession.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Link potpourri

For everyone freaking out about the name of the latest Apple product. Really, people? Menstrual products were the only thing you thought of when you heard the name?

"Humilitiation (the game) and J.D. Salinger." That is, elitist pride that comes with not having read a classic.

One of those "duh" papers that it's good someone actually did: Students who get FAFSA help are more likely to attend college. (Seriously, have you filled one out lately? Not easy.)

On the off chance you're interested, here's info on the quantitative seminar our department runs.

This novella is one of the most brutal stories I've ever read. It's also amazing and brilliant. You should read it.