Monday, November 30, 2015

We have a lot of ghost stories here at ETSU

My student worker swears she heard my toilet flush when my office was empty. (Yes, I have a private bathroom, thank you very much.) I even had a friend die in his office during commencement. I'm skeptical, to say the least. Unless he happens to be looking over my shoulder right now...From The Atlantic.

Why College Students ​Need Their Urban Legends
Legend has it that the forests surrounding Reed College in Portland, Oregon, are home to not only standard flora and fauna, but also a slightly lesser known species: zombie monkeys. The mutant albino monkeys are rumored to be the former subjects of a psychology professor’s secret experiments in his underground lab. At some point, the primates were allegedly freed by an animal-rights activist group and now run amok in the canyon beside the school’s campus—potential threats to students wandering around a little too late at night.
Meanwhile, near Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont, a Loch-Ness-like creature (lovingly nicknamed Champ) has reportedly been spotted in the depths of Lake Champlain over the years, becoming a local attraction. And at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, a duck spirit is thought to roam the halls and block the refrigerator doors of unsuspecting freshmen students trying to drink beer. Many colleges across the country have their own version of a lurking zombie monkey, sea monster, or duck (and in some cases, the all-too-real rumor of human-size cockroaches or rats roaming the halls). And that’s on top of the myriad tales of haunted dorms and classrooms. At Emory University, for example, a playful ghost named Dooley who died from alcoholism and went on to teach anatomy using his bones, is such a household name that stuffed animals of his skeletal likeness are sold at the campus bookstore and a spirit week every spring claims him as mascot, according to Elizabeth Tucker’s Haunted Halls: Ghostlore of American College Campuses
Simon Bronner, an American studies and folklore professor at Penn State Harrisburg, says such urban legends emerge on campuses as a manifestation of student anxiety about the college experience—often serving as an outlet through which they can express their fears about being away from home. In other words, they’re often a means students can use to acknowledge and contain this apprehension without having to be completely vulnerable about it. Bronner, who authored the book Campus Traditions: Folklore from the Old-Time College to the Modern Mega-University, cites legends that center on romantic relationships and roommates as cases when the stories function as stand-ins for students’ own fears. “Telling them is partly ritual, partly humorous,” he says. “Students are using that frame of lore to raise issues about aging, about where they are on a strange place on their own for the first time.” Many of the college legends—which may warn against partying too much or caving to academic pressures or even staying out so late a zombie monkey might appear—are “cautionary tales” that provide nuggets of “cultural advice,” he says.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tweaking Tennessee Promise

In its second year. There's a desperate need for more mentors and more attention paid to completing the required community service. From The Tennessean.

Tennessee Promise gets 'refined' in year 2
Officials at every level of Tennessee Promise — including counselors such as Ogilvie, leaders in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office and college admissions staffers — are using lessons from the program’s first year to refine their approach to year two. 
Community colleges are beefing up admissions events and paying more attention to help with financial aid. The Tennessee Promise program itself is reaching out to involve parents more in the process and to bolster the student support system.

Mike Krause, the executive director of Tennessee Promise and a member of Haslam's staff, said these kinds of tweaks will become common as the program continues. 
“This is definitely a program that every year we’re going to undergo continuous improvements,” Krause said. “There’s no doubt that this is a refined program now.” 
For school counselor Ogilvie, that means encouraging students to stick with the program even if they don’t think they need to. 
Ogilvie saw many of her students drop out of Tennessee Promise early last year, shirking required meetings and volunteer work because they thought they didn’t need a college backup plan. For some of them, it turned out to be a costly mistake. 
“We did have a few students where life actually got in the way,” Ogilvie said. 
Those students, she said, got wait-listed or denied at four-year schools and wound up paying to go to community college, which would have been tuition-free had they stayed in Tennessee Promise.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The timeless value of the liberal arts

When you think about it, it's not surprising West Point stresses the liberal arts. Soldiers deal with a considerable amount of ambiguity these days and the liberal arts prepare them to handle that. From The Hechinger Report.

The surprising institutions that refuse to drop the liberal arts
Christian Nattiel rattles off the way his course of studies has prepared him for his prestigious role as a company commander in charge of 120 fellow cadets at the U.S. Military Academy. 
Nattiel, of Dade City, Florida, isn’t focusing at West Point on military science, or strategy, or leadership. He’s majoring in philosophy. 
Ramrod straight in his Army combat uniform on the historic campus, where future officers are required to take humanities and social-sciences courses such as history, composition, psychology, literature, and languages, he said that, in philosophy, “There’s no right answer, and that’s very useful in the Army, so you’re not so rigid.” 
Thirty miles up the Hudson River, students in chefs’ whites and toques experiment with recipes and test ingredients at the Culinary Institute of America, one of the nation’s foremost schools for chefs, whose seal is a knife crossed with knife sharpener. They’re required to take liberal-arts courses, too, including sociology, psychology, and languages, and have to write and present a senior thesis, all to help them later with such things as managing employees and preparing business plans and raising capital to open their own restaurants.

“People without a liberal-arts background really have no place to go with their skill sets,” said Frank Guido, a Culinary Institute student from Rochester, New York, sitting in the campus café and studying the Mayan Indians for a course he’s taking in history and culture. “They lack an overall knowledge, and an ability to relate to people and make educated decisions, and not jump to conclusions.” 
As mainstream universities and colleges cut liberal-arts courses and programs in favor of more vocational disciplines, and the number of students majoring in the humanities continues to decline, unexpected types of institutions are expanding their requirements in the liberal arts with the conviction that these courses teach the kinds of skills employers say they want, and leaders need: critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and communication. 
‘The ability to think broadly’ 
“Some people are surprised, yes,” said Brigadier General Timothy Trainor, West Point’s academic dean, in his high-ceilinged, wood-paneled office in the Gothic-style stone administration building. 
“It’s important to develop in young people the ability to think broadly, to operate in the context of other societies and become agile and adaptive thinkers,” Trainor said. “What you’re trying to do is teach them to deal with complexity, diversity, and change. They’re having to deal with people from other cultures. They have to think very intuitively to solve problems on the ground.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The real Big Stone Gap

Is not too far from here.  Three cheers for the film; the Appalachian or hillbilly stereotype deserves to die. From Salon.

Deliver me from “Deliverance”: Finally, a Hollywood movie gets Appalachian people right
“Big Stone Gap,” a new movie adapted from the bestselling novel by Adriana Trigiani, stars Ashley Judd as a middle-aged Appalachian woman whose quiet life is disrupted by a death and a sudden revelation. The film features an African-American woman who is neither servant nor Magic Negro, a gay man who is not ostracized once he comes out, and a main character who is not only Italian, but also intelligent and even bilingual. In fact, many of the characters—including a lovable librarian and a tough coal-miner—love to read. References are made to “Jane Eyre” and “Wuthering Heights.” Michelangelo is quoted. The film even showcases a couple of Melungeon characters, a tri-racial isolate that most Americans don’t even know exist because they’re rarely taught anything about this region’s culture or history. Furthermore, the film is set in 1978 and the characters actually dress like it’s 1978 — not as if they’re 30 years behind in fashion and lifestyle. 
These may seem like small victories, but for Appalachian people, this portrayal is revolutionary. Even in our best films we are rarely shown as diverse, intelligent, or modern. “Coal Miner’s Daughter” is one of the region’s most beloved films because it showcases Loretta Lynn, a hero to many Appalachian people because of her pluck, determination, and authenticity. Yet even this complex portrayal of the region is not without fault. Lynn herself had complaints, among them that her mother was portrayed as always wearing dowdy gingham dresses and a haggard expression when, in fact, she “was anything but drab,” according to Lynn, who insisted that her mother wore “bloodred lipstick” and blue jeans in the 1950s. 
Over and over, Appalachians have been made to be representative of the past on film. Of violence and illiteracy. In 2004, a three year-old child was killed when a half-ton boulder was pushed off an illegal mining operation and crashed through three walls to stop atop his body—just a few miles from the town of Big Stone Gap. The media barely blinked; in fact, there was no national coverage of the event. I believe that’s because to most people, Appalachians are invisible. We’re throwaway people. Films have led us to believe that Appalachians—like my family on that beach trip—are so backward, mean and toothless that they’re not worthy of respect.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Tennessee Alliance for Continuing Higher Education

TACHE 47th Annual Conference
Gatlinburg, TN
November 11-13, 2015
$195 for TACHE members.  For more information or to register for the conference, go here.  Make your room reservations here.  Plan to attend the fabulous opening reception Wednesday night at the Aquarium of the Smokies!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Those zany Millennials

They don't drive cars, which impacts more than you might think.  From Salon.

This is the one change by millennials that will change absolutely everything
Let’s take a look at the era that began in 2001, when the first Millennials graduated college, got jobs, and started families. Eight years later, in 2009, Millennials drove 23 percent fewer miles on average than their same-age predecessors did in 2001. That is, their average mileage—VMT, or vehicle miles traveled—plummeted from 10,300 miles a year to 7,900, a difference of 2,400 miles a year, or 46 fewer miles a week. 
It’s not that they stopped traveling. While Millennials made 15 percent fewer trips by car, they took 16 percent more bike trips than their same-age predecessors did in 2001, and their public–transit passenger miles increased by a whopping 40 percent. That’s 117 more miles annually biking, walking, or taking public transit than their same-age predecessors used in 2001. 
When a cohort of the size of the Millennial generation changes behavior that radically, it’s a little like what happens when a third of the people on board a ferry decide to move from starboard to port: the entire boat starts to list. Which is what is happening to the United States. In every five-year period from 1945 to 2004, Americans had driven more miles than they did the half-decade before. In 2004, the average American drove 85 percent more than in 1970. But by 2011, the average American was driving 6 percent fewer miles than in 2004. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers were a small part of the reason—they drove somewhat less in 2009 than in 2001—but the big cause was the Millennials. What makes this even more dramatic is that, by 2009, only half the Millennial generation was even out of high school. If all eighty million Millennials retain their current driving habits for the next twenty-five years, the US population will increase by 21 percent, but total VMT will be even less than it is today, and per capita VMT—the vehicle miles traveled per person—will fall off the table.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

I suppose it's better than dressing as hookers

That allegedly Louisville used to recruit basketball players. But still. Wasn't anyone thinking before this happened? From The Huffington Post.

University Of Louisville Sorry A Bunch Of Its Staff Wore Sombreros And Fake Mustaches
The University of Louisville issued an apology on Thursday, after a community outcry over a photograph showing school staff, including school President James Ramsey, donning sombreros and other items associated with Hispanic culture during a party. 
In a statement directed to the Hispanic and Latino faculty, staff and students, Ramsey' office said the school will initiate diversity training immediately. 
The photograph, taken at a staff luncheon, was posted on the website of Louisville's newspaper, the Courier-Journal, along with a story about a university-owned mansion that sits vacant except for certain events, like fundraisers and staff luncheons. 
The photo shows Ramsey wearing a sombrero and multi-colored poncho. Women in the image are wearing similar hats along with facial hair, while other men are wearing veils. Several people are also holding maracas.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Vanderbilt

Is number 42.  On GrubHub's list of the 50 most caffeinated colleges. From Time. The methodology might be a little suspect...

THE 50 MOST CAFFEINATED COLLEGES
Millions of students return to campus this week preparing for another year of late nights studying and early-morning classes (or just late nights and no studying). 
Who’s struggling the most to stay awake? 
Online food delivery company GrubHub, which now serves more than 20 million meals each quarter, analyzed delivery orders sent to more than 100 colleges in 47 states during the 2014-2015 academic year to see which students are ordering the most caffeine. (The company used e-mail addresses ending in .edu to determine which orders came from people associated with college and universities.) 
By tallying up the orders that had the highest percentage of coffee drinks, energy drinks and all eye-opening cups in between, the company has crowned Lehigh University, the private school in Bethlehem, Penn., America’s most caffeinated school.