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09 Mar Posted by in Academics, Students | Comments

Honors College in an Accessible University

Honors College in an Accessible University

Here’s an issue I admit I hadn’t thought of but should have; and it’s quite interesting. How should we consider an Honors College in a University that proudly proclaims its desire to be as accessible as possible to qualified students, to seek to include rather than exclude? Our Honors College, which predates our new Strategic […]

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02 Mar Posted by in Academics, Research | 3 comments

Public Intellectuals and “Significant” Research

Public Intellectuals and “Significant” Research

A recent (Feb. 15) New York Times op-ed on the increasing public irrelevance of much social science research, by Nicholas Kristof, has legitimately won wide attention. Kristof argues that academics themselves must bear much of the blame for the fact that so many really intelligent academic thinkers have little or no role in the crucial […]

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23 Feb Posted by in International, Region | 5 comments

The Civil War in International Perspective

The Civil War in International Perspective

In May, Mason will host a one-day conference on the international context and impact of the American Civil War, as part of the Commonwealth’s impressive series of gatherings to commemorate the conflict’s sesquicentennial. I offered to organize the conference some time ago, and it’s great to see it nearing fruition. My qualifications for my role […]

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16 Feb Posted by in International | 3 comments

Mason Korea

Mason Korea

It is always good to report a collective achievement: after years of planning and preparation, and a lot of work by many faculty and staff both in Virginia and in Incheon, Mason’s Korea campus will open in just a couple of weeks. Students move into the dorms right at the end of February, classes start […]

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09 Feb Posted by in Academics | 4 comments

What Are Universities For?

What Are Universities For?

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to give a short talk on the subject of the purpose of universities, to a fairly general audience of people interested in George Mason but not for the most part academics (though some colleagues were there too). I won’t claim my thoughts were terribly profound or original, […]

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02 Feb Posted by in Administration, Faculty | Comments

Enrollment Shifts

Enrollment Shifts

At Mason, and nationally, student choices are changing. The shifts offer both promise and problem, and they deserve some systematic attention. First, of course, there is a steady increase in students interested in science, engineering, and health professions. This is probably a largely good development, though it stresses faculty and facilities that are relatively expensive […]

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26 Jan Posted by in Academics | 3 comments

Innovation in Higher Ed

Innovation in Higher Ed

As many readers know, the tone of innovation discussions in higher education seems to be changing a bit, compared to last year. Whereas the most vigorous voices a year ago were talking boldly of disruption and defending radical departures like MOOCs, today the bloom has faded a bit. Intelligent discussions about realistic uses of MOOCs […]

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Wellbeing

Wellbeing

This offering features some musings about wellbeing, and specifically the commitment in our Strategic Plan to make Mason a “wellbeing university”, possibly the first ever (though discussions of wellbeing in colleges are gaining ground elsewhere). The musings go in several directions, all reflecting my relative unfamiliarity with this goal (in contrast to our other strategic […]

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Transitions

Transitions

This will be my last semester as Provost.  At the end of June I will return to faculty (I’m not retiring at this point, just changing roles).  Presumably my successor will be selected by March, and I’m told that the search pool is very good.  So for me and in some ways for the University, […]

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22 Dec Posted by in Observations | 14 comments

2013: A Year for Debate (Like Every Year)

2013: A Year for Debate (Like Every Year)

The opportunity to be on a year-end TV show gave me a prompt to think about the year now almost past in some historical perspective. It’s an interesting, inherently speculative venture, and I would welcome your thoughts. I wish I’d considered the exercise for my last world history class, but I’ll try it next year. […]

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