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Creature of Our Own Making, A

Reflections on Contemporary Academic Life

Gary A. Olson

Publication Year: 2012

Witty, savvy, incisive, and entertaining short essays on the culture, mores, and practices of higher education.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-x

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pp. 1-6

A Creature of Our Own Making is a collection of fifty-eight of my monthly columns about higher education published in the Chronicle of Higher Education over a span of nearly six years. These short essays are meditations on many aspects of academic life, but especially on issues relevant to faculty and academic administrators. ...

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1. Campus Culture

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pp. 7-38

It has become a cliché among professors to speak of power relations within the university setting in adversarial terms—as a matter of “us” (the faculty) versus “them” (by which is usually meant all administrators from the lowliest department head to the university president). ...

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2. The Craft of Administration

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pp. 39-78

The original Star Wars film was not even a year old when the now-clichéd retort had already begun to circulate through academe: After accepting an appointment as department chair, your colleagues would stop you in the hallway and ask ominously, “So, you’ve decided to join the Dark Side?” ...

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3. Campus Reform

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pp. 79-108

In January of 2011, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced the results of its most recent classification of colleges and universities. Its previous round of assessment occurred in 2005. ...

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4. Faculty Concerns

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pp. 109-146

In the summer of 2009, I wrote a column attempting to clarify the meaning of shared governance (The Chronicle, July 24, 2009). Since then, some readers have requested that I do the same for academic freedom. ...

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5. Faculty Recruitment

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pp. 147-166

A prominent athletics director once told me the secret to a successful college sports program: “What separates the consistent winners from all the rest is tenacious recruiting. A faithful alumni base and state-of-the-art equipment and facilities are all wonderful, but recruiting good people is the single most essential ingredient.” ...

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6. Special Topics

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pp. 167-194

A few weeks ago, some colleagues and I were sharing stories about graduation ceremonies, and the discussion reminded me of at least two very different ways of thinking about the role of commencement in the contemporary university. ...


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pp. 195-198

E-ISBN-13: 9781438445793
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438445779

Page Count: 207
Publication Year: 2012