Entries in "universities"

June 14, 2007

work and life as two balls....

... one of rubber, one of glass. A great metaphor, from Sandra Pianalto, in her speech to the graduating class at John Carroll last month:

Imagine that in one hand you hold a rubber ball and in the other hand you hold a beautiful fragile glass ball. The rubber ball represents your work life. The fragile glass ball represents your personal life - your family, your health, your friends.

What happens if you drop the rubber ball? It will bounce. Someone will pick it up for you, or it will just stay put until you are able to pick it up again.

But if you drop the glass ball, it may smash into a million pieces. If you are lucky, it will only crack - but either way, it will never be the same again.

Don't allow your justifiable concern with your career to cause you to drop the precious ball that represents your family, your friends, and your health.

I want to end today by wishing you, our graduates, not just a successful career, but a successful life. Take a few risks - bounce that rubber ball if you need to. Learn from everyone you meet. Be kind. And be happy. Do these simple things, and we will all be astonished by what you accomplish.

May 20, 2007

academic rhythms

Last month, one of my old posts which received a very high number of hits was the one on work rhythms of academic and professional life. As a followup, I thought I'd write a bit about why I haven't posted in about a month, and comment on the academic rhythms of the end of the semester.

In a nutshell: students don't realize that when they finish their final papers and exams and presentations, a professor's work has just begun!

My last post was April 10. On April 12, the drumrolls of grading began, as my first student teams began delivering presentations to their classes about their final projects. This required that I send each team feedback on their presentations after class -- emails that require tactful phrasing, indeed.

By April 19, I began receiving end-of-semester papers. While I am fortunate to have teaching assistants for both of my courses, I still need to be involved in the grading process, which also takes time.

Classes ended on April 26. Then I needed to pull together my grading spreadsheets, deciding on a final point scheme for class participation, and resolving any problems with missing grades (it always happens, and not just because a student didn't hand anything in). By this point, I also had to deal with two teams in which the members gave each other less-than-satisfactory peer appraisals -- which means that I had to talk to everyone on each of those teams. This is no easy matter when students are cramming for finals and don't want to take time out to visit with a professor in her office.

I extended the deadline for final papers in one of my classes until April 30, which meant that the TA and I had less time to turn them around and get grades back to the students. On May 5 and May 7, those same students delivered presentations to their classmates in lieu of a final exam. There were 26 presentations in all over the 2 dates, and I had to grade all of those and enter the scores into Blackboard (our online course management system.) I finally filed grades on May 14.

For the rest of last week, I took time off, recuperating from the push of four 60-hour weeks in a row. While 60 hours of work in a week didn't seem like a huge burden when I was a college junior taking 21 credits, that was almost half a lifetime ago. Perhaps I'm also wiser, in recognizing the need for my body and my brain to recuperate after running such a mental marathon.

And if anyone comments to me that "it must be nice to have the summer off" I may just bite off their head. The ambitious list of papers to write and projects to wrap up that I composed in early January will be coming back to haunt me this summer. It is nice to be able to work at a coffeeshop or at the library or out on our screened porch, but I definitely have work to do this summer, and less time off than I'd like.

April 09, 2007

discussing race in the region and the nation

This Thursday, as part of Case's fifth annual Research ShowCase, I will be attending a panel discussion from 10:30 - noon on "Race and the Nation" which includes a nationally prominent speaker, five panelists (three MDs, two PhDs, and one DDS), and a great moderator -- Dee Perry, from WCPN.

There are several other interesting panel sessions on Wednesday afternoon and throughout the day on Thursday, and all events in the showcase are free an open to the public! Please join us, at the Veale Convocation Center, accessible from Adelbert Road near the University Circle RTA station.

April 02, 2007

Case Western Reserve, highest quality education at a great value

I was pleased to read that Kiplinger's rated Case Western Reserve as one of the top 50 best values among comparable universities last week. (See the table for the full list of 50.)

I was surprised, though, to see the university's press release about our inclusion on the Kiplinger's list mentioning the other "peer" schools that we outranked on the list. I thought the point of the list was that these schools are not our peers, at least in the eyes of the people who compiled the Kiplinger's list. (why give the other "peer" schools another page to generate hits for them on the web?)

The table shows that only 15 of the top 50 schools have better student-to-faculty ratios than Case Western Reserve. Of all the private universities Kiplinger's ranked, only 15 do better than the 9 students per faculty member ratio at Case Western Reserve.

Also, only 5 of the universities on the list accept a higher percentage of their entering class. Case Western Reserve accepted 68 percent of applicants, according to the table. From an academic rankings perspective, a lower acceptance rate would improve our standings compared with other schools; however, from an applicant's perspective, a high acceptance rate is desirable, because it makes the investment of time in a college application less of a gamble.

At Case Western Reserve, we meet the total financial need of 92 percent of our students. The majority of that financial aid is in the form of grants, rather than loans. (Only 3 of the 50 schools provide a higher percentage of students with financial aid sufficient to meet their financial need.) Case Western Reserve is right in the middle of the top 50 universities in terms of the average debt of new graduates, at just under 21 thousand dollars.

December 12, 2006

cheaper is not always better

Every entry-level marketing course emphasizes that price is not the only feature that attracts buyers to a product or service -- there's also quality, availability, etc. So perhaps it shouldn't be so fascinating to learn that when choosing between colleges, students prefer going to one with a higher tuition, as long as they receive some financial aid.

Here's the story, in today's New York Times.

November 09, 2006

Polishing our message

In Northeast Ohio, we typically think of ourselves as old manufacturing powerhouses (think TRW and the like), new financial services companies (think Progressive, MBNA, etc), and internationally reknowned healthcare (think University Hospitals, the Cleveland Clinic, and MetroHealth). One of the arenas in which I'm increasingly aware of our strengths, though, is in a different service industry: marketing, public relations, and the design of products and services.

Take a look at John Booth's recent blog entry over at Crain's Cleveland Business, for example. Or, think about the powerhouse that is Nottingham Spirk (as highlighted in the recent New York Times article about University Circle as a commercial real estate gem). Definitely check out the slide show available through the NYT, with glorious photographs by David Maxwell, entitled Rebuilding Cleveland.

The opportunities available for employment in communications, marketing, and public relations have never been more visible to me. As our region continues its climb to the top of the global heap, we will need individuals who can grasp those opportunities and polish the messages about Northeast Ohio and its companies, nonprofits, and government agencies. That's why I'm so pleased that Weatherhead is now offering our undergraduates the opportunity to concentrate in Marketing, within the B. S. in Management degree. Check out the course listings. (We also offer a minor to students in the College of Arts and Sciences, and a minor or a sequence to students in the Case School of Engineering.) Of course, those course listings understate the opportunities available to our students, because so much learning within the management major is experiential. My students demonstrate all the time how quickly they learn from their internship, career panel, and campus leadership experiences. Still, the chance to learn from and with six faculty in marketing (including our interim Dean) should draw many students into management in the coming years.

I'm delighted to see our region polishing our message -- Northeast Ohio is rebuilding, a renaissance is well under way, and we are proud of what we do here. And I'm heartened to know that my university is playing a role in building that justifiable pride.

June 30, 2006

book in development: impacts of gender equity

I just read my copy of the newsletter for the Gender, Diversity, and Organizations division of the Academy of Management, which mentioned a very interesting new book which is in the development stages. It's called Living Life: Stories of Women, Men and Changing Roles in the 20th Century. The premise of the project is that stories about the progress of gender equity need to be told so that we can both cherish and protect these gains.

Click through on the book title to read more! There is an online survey that you can complete to share your stories with the project directors.

April 25, 2006

developing a career, growing a family...

How can one develop a career and grow a family at the same time? Especially in academia, this is a sticky question. The Tomorrow's Professor blog recently explored the question of whether there is a global warming trend toward women in academia, but concludes that in many traditionally male disciplines, the climate for women is still chilly. And in all this focus on women, the broader point about how men in two-career marriages can play more egalitarian roles in their growing families while moving into academic careers sometimes gets lost. (This is a more specific version of the broader question which I addressed yesterday in my post on what fathers want.)

I was particularly struck by this series of posts at Mommy Ph.D....

Continue reading "developing a career, growing a family..."

April 13, 2006

inspiring meeting yesterday -- building a regional coalition


My NEOBEAN colleagues and I met with Eric Brewer, the mayor of East Cleveland, and he was very supportive and willing to work with us in getting breastfeeding education materials to his city's residents. He and Norm Roulet (who is working on lead abatement in the region) further challenged us to draw together a team of people to get involved in a health fair in the city next month, and to figure out how to reach out to and offer prenatal care, easier access to WIC and other government services, and make sure that all pregnant women are educated about the potential dangers of lead contamination in their living quarters.

I hope that we can draw in some student volunteers to help us with the outreach and health promotion aspects of the initiative. It would be great if we could find a way to offer health promotion curriculum in middle schools and high schools.

March 09, 2006

how are universities managed?

No, this is not a post about the budget issues and faculty-leadership tensions on my home campus. (Be sure to read what Aaron had to say about that, though.)

This is the seventh of a series of posts introducing the NEO community to the intrepid students who have taken on an optional assignment in MGMT 251 this spring. The seventh student I am highlighting is Takanori Kido, whose blog focuses on Contrasts in University Management: the US vs. Japan. He has made several entries so far, and his latest addresses the challenge of firing employees. Would you add any considerations to his list? Read his entry and leave him a comment, please!

P. S. The previous entry in my series highlighting students' blogs is here, and has trackbacks to the earlier entries as well. Any support you can give to these novice bloggers is most welcome!

March 08, 2006

let this be the century when sexism ends

Today is Blog Against Sexism day, and as promised, I'm going to write something about pregnancy discrimination. It's by no means the only manifestation of sexism in our society, but it's one that I have thought about a lot over the last few years, especially since I began teaching my undergraduates the basics about nondiscrimination in employment interviewing.

In a great post on BlogHer about ten days back, Jory DesJardins told a story that sounded all too familiar to me:

Recently I helped a friend get a position at a firm where I knew the principals, who were both men. She already had a small child, and they'd agreed to flexible hours. She worked from home but was enormously structured, starting work at 5am to begin sales calls on the East Coast and taking breaks in the middle of the day to be with her daughter. The situation was working well, until she got pregnant again. Her voice was low and secretive when she called. "I'm pregnant," she nearly whispered. "Congratulations!" I said. She didn't sound as happy as I was for her.

"Thanks," she said. "I haven't said anything yet to my boss."

Sadly that is often what women think upon hearing such news--how do I make it look like having another life in the house won't have any effect on my work performance?

Yes, many employers consider it a bad thing if a worker gets pregnant, and it's such a short-term and narrow-minded point of view. Forget the joy of bringing a new life into the world, forget the long-term contribution that the mother and her social support system will make by raising a young citizen with untold promise, forget that all workers eventually retire and we do need, as a society, to nurture the next generation of productive workers... are you going to be able to deliver your tasks on time to me over the next six months?

I understand that it is disruptive to the normal flow of work to deal with someone going on maternity leave, to find a temporary replacement, to manage the uncertainties of when the new mother will be ready and able to return to full-time work. But let's not forget to be human when we are managers -- let's not forget to say "congratulations!" and mean it. After all, most women are already confronting a lot of stress and challenges when they are holding down a job and growing a baby simultaneously, especially in countries like Papua New Guinea and the United States, where they have no guarantee of paid maternity leave. The least you can do, as an employer, is not add to that stress with a selfish, short-term reaction to the news that an employee is expecting.

According to Carmen Armenti, many women academics either attempt to hide their pre-tenure babies by having May babies or delay having children until after they have earned tenure. In both situations, women are hiding their maternal desires to meet an unwritten professional standard that is geared toward the male life course. While I did not go this far with my first child, I did make a conscious effort not to conceive at a time when I would have gone on leave in the middle of a semester. I didn't want to develop relationships with students and then "leave them in the lurch" when I went into labor, and I didn't want to develop any complicated system for my colleagues to cover for me through the second half of a semester.

That many academic women feel these pressures to minimize the visibility of their motherhood and its impact on their work productivity in the first few months after childbirth is problematic, particularly since that many academics pursue long careers -- 30, 40, or sometimes even 50 years long. Why must their first 10 years follow a lock-step pattern of 4 years earning their doctorate, followed by 6 years of incredibly long hours spent on research, writing, and teaching, in order to earn tenure? Why must people who wish to pursue an academic career, but would prefer not to work 55, 65, or 75 hours a week, be treated as second-class citizens?

Many women entering professional work face these challenges, not just academic women. In consulting, twice as many women exit the big companies from the middle rungs of the career ladder as do men. In medicine, a whole wave of new entrants into the field are seeking ways to combine careers as doctors with family or other personal interests -- both men and women. The organizations which can figure out how to rework traditional male career patterns and create options for their professional employees, both male and female, are the ones which will succeed in retaining outstanding talent in the coming decades, when baby boomers will retire and there will be smaller numbers of new professionals entering the US workforce.

Let this be the century when biased attitudes toward working women who get pregnant fade away, replaced by an appreciation for the value that childbearing and parenting have in our society in the long term.

Let this be the century when shards of the shattered glass ceiling are swept up and shipped off to be recycled, and the maternal wall is demolished for good.

Let this be the century when employers learn to manage employees flexibly, allowing them to structure their own days so they can be most productive.

Let this be the century when women (whether mothers or not) come to be treated as true equals, in the workplace and in their homes, and our global society learns the meaning of equity.

Let this be the century when sexism ends.

(If you want to participate in Blog Against Sexism day, just make a post in your own blog, and put a tag on it that says "blog against sexism". Then you can read other posts made in honor of the cause via Technorati.)

February 17, 2006

Would you be able to forgive him?

Biswanath Halder was sentenced to life in prison on Friday. One of the brothers of Norman Wallace, the Weatherhead MBA student who Halder shot and killed on May 9, 2003, forgave the shooter after the sentencing... another spoke bitterly. I can understand both of their reactions.

I never had a chance to meet Norman Wallace, and yet I know that his death was a tremendous loss.

Continue reading "Would you be able to forgive him?"

October 12, 2005

article about SAGES in the Observer

There was an article in the campus newspaper last Friday with two key words in the headline: SAGES and disappointing. I could not get a sense of how typical the varied reactions to the program have been, though it seems important to find out. It might be easy to dismiss student complaints about the program as just stemming from Case's broader student culture of criticism and complaint, but it's hard to say whether the squeaky wheels are attracting the reporter's attention, or if there are not many students out there singing the praises of their First Seminar instructors.

If SAGES is a change initiative, bumps along the road to implementation are to be expected. How do we make sense of this feedback? Do we need to adjust our marketing so that it gives more of a sense of realistic preview? Do we need to provide more training and support to SAGES instructors? Do we need to surface the enthusiastic voices so that they cannot drown out the naysayers? This would make an interesting consulting project for an action research team.

July 29, 2005

voluntary collaborations on the web

Every time I run across an example of a large-scale voluntary collaboration on the WWW, my optimism for the future is reinforced. These types of projects often have the feel of an open source computer programming effort, in that their aim is to produce a collective good by involving anyone who wished to be involved in the production process. In many cases, they also aim to make the product or service available to all for free. They are not always focused on computer programs, though -- Wikipedians, for instance, are focused on building a storehouse of knowledge for future generations, in over 200 different languages.

The desire to share knowledge with others, accurately, and from a neutral point of view, embodies a set of values that are close to my heart (and are shared by most university professors, I would hope). Indeed, the challenge of teaching individuals how to distinguish between established facts and research conclusions on the one hand, and hypotheses and opinions on the other, is central to a university's teaching mission. Sorting through those hypotheses and opinions and making judgments about which can be moved into the category of facts and conclusions is central to a university's scholarly mission.

I'm thrilled and inspired by the idea of a Wikipedia, and even the idea of Wikibooks is appealing. When I encountered the fledgling Wikiversity, though, I realized that the publishers of encyclopedias and books must be somewhat less than thrilled by these potential free competitors. What will become of universities if the Wikipedians are able to expand their success with their online encyclopedia into the realm of university courses? Will everyone choose to pursue their higher education online, rather than attending courses in person on an old-style university campus? I doubt it, based on my belief that many things (particularly in my field, the study of human interaction in organizations) cannot be understood merely by reading about them.

I do wonder whether anyone in organizational behavior is studying what makes these open source efforts work. Efforts like Drupal, for instance, combine long periods of work coordinated via the web and email with face-to-face conferences, and my hypothesis is that when online communication leads to face-to-face communication, the effort will be more likely to sustain itself and achieve goals for progress defined by the participants. Understanding how these voluntary collaborations which make use of the web work would help contribute to our understanding of transformative cooperation more generally.

I'm off to work on the introductory chapter of our forthcoming book, A Handbook of Transformative cooperation: New Designs and Dynamics, to be published in the traditional mode next year. (I'm not sure my colleagues would consider something published on Wikibooks to be a valuable contribution, yet!) Still, I hope that my colleagues in the blogosphere will let me know if they run across any research about what makes open source collaborations effective!