How to kickstart your writing

It seems everywhere you look these days someone is running a Kickstarter campaign. I love the premise of Kickstarter. The idea is that someone can crowdsource the funding to make their idea become a reality. While we can’t exactly kickstart writing exactly the same way, there are some tips we can do to get moving and improve our writing quality.  In today’s post, I will share four tips for how to kickstart your writing.

Writing is hard work. Sitting around and waiting for inspiration just won’t get you where you want to go. Moreover, working to improve writing is a lifetime endeavor.

3 overarching themes of the history of American higher education

As much as any organization in society, higher education is shaped by history. When you have an institution that has not fundamentally changed much since the Middle Ages, history is going to have a pervasive influence. I believe that every faculty member and administrator should understand the history of higher education and how that shapes the work of today’s institutions. In this post, I share three overarching themes of the history of American higher education.

The history of American higher education is fascinating for how central themes reoccur at various points.

Teaching basics before teaching excellence

As a teaching center director, I spent much of my time thinking about how to help faculty improve and develop. It is exciting and rewarding work. When teaching my own classes, I can work to improve the learning experience of my students. In my faculty development role, I’m able to help many faculty teaching literally thousands of students. When working with faculty, we often stress innovation, experimentation, and technology. However, I’ve recently been reminded that we need to talk more about teaching basics before teaching excellence.

Photo credit: osseous

In my experience, most faculty want to be better teachers. They may not know how to improve or possess the skill set. They may feel that they don’t have time to devote to teaching. But they want to be better.

MLK on solving the problems of racial injustice

In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King spoke at Southern Methodist University regarding segregation, racial injustice, and moving the nation forward. This past year has been a difficult one with racial tensions within and outside of higher education. With affirmative action again before the Supreme Court, the coming year will continue to challenge us to implement King’s vision. I want to share a brief excerpt from his speech at SMU that should particularly convict our country as we select our next president.

King speaking at SMU. Photo credit: SMU

How do tenure committees evaluate candidates

The tenure review process may be one of the most mysterious performance review processes in any industry. In most cases, there are vague guidelines and unclear expectations. As I went through the tenure process, I felt like I had done enough, but you never really know.  In large measure, the lack of clarity stems from a fear of establishing legally binding precedent as well as an attitude of “I did it this way, you can too” on the part of senior faculty. In today’s post, I want to pull the curtain back and answer the basic question: How do tenure committees evaluate candidates?

To be sure, each department, school, and institution vary somewhat on what they’re looking for and how they evaluate pre-tenure candidates.

While the relative weight of each of the 8 aspects I identify vary, I want to suggest that these are the primary criteria considered by colleges and universities across the country— no matter their size, research mission, or prestige.