• Teaching
  • Culture of Helplessness?

    Lori Isbell has a story that I would file under “you can’t make this stuff up”: Recently, I received an email from a student asking me the name of a writer — a writer whose book we’d been reading for two weeks….I knew that the student owned the book, because I had seen her with […]

  • Blog
  • Gorilla Girl

    In Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is the story of the woman mauled by a gorilla. “Pain,” she says. “You don’t know pain.” The “story” is a joke, actually, with the punchline, “He doesn’t write. He doesn’t call.” Annie tells it much better. For me, I don’t need the whole telling, just the punchline. It’s […]

  • Teaching
  • You’re No Prize Either

    I’m the department chair now. It’s my first annual evaluation season. I’m thinking this is going to be hard for me. Two main reasons: I take things literally. My university uses a five point scale where 3 is “meets expectations.” But there’s a wink-wink use of the scale where 4, “exceeds expectations,” means “you are […]

  • Blog
  • The Parent Prayer

    My son attends a small Catholic college. I work at a large public university. In many ways the enterprise is very different. But in other ways, fundamentally the same. In the orientation materials, his school provided a Prayer for Parents: Almighty and all-loving God, you have given me this wonderful and treasured child who is […]

  • Blog
  • Happy Birthday, Cyber Lil!

    Tomorrow would have been my grandmother’s 101st birthday. I recently heard our new dean tell her origin story as a first generation college student. I am not. In fact, the grandmother I celebrate today, Lillian Bunin, was a math major at Hunter College, which makes me a third generation STEM nerd. In addition to sharing […]

  • Teaching
  • Emailing Professors

    How confident are you that you know how to write an impeccable email to a professor? If you aren’t confident, or maybe even if you are, please read this excellent article on how to email your professor. Please. The author (Laura Portwood-Stacer) breaks it down for us into ten easy steps. I’m often skeptical of […]