There was a time when one wouldn’t even think of keeping a graduate dissertation under lock and key…
July 26th, 2013

There was a time when one wouldn’t even think of keeping a graduate dissertation under lock and key, withheld from public view except in very rare circumstances, such as the potential harm that could befall an informant. But as with so much about graduate studies these days, things are changing. There are two main reasons why deans are currently receiving pressure from graduate students to embargo their theses for anywhere from a year to six and much longer.

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Just got back from San Juan, Puerto Rico…
July 19th, 2013

Just got back from San Juan, Puerto Rico. That’s a postcard stock shot of the hotel where the Summer Dean’s Institute of the Council of Graduate Schools held its annual meetings. Tough job but somebody’s … Actually, the humidity was pretty punishing. Hard to fully embrace the island when you feel the need to change your shirt every five minutes. I had never been to Puerto Rico. It’s a bit of a strange place, lots of wealth, lots of poverty—lots of air conditioning at full energy-challenging blast. There’s a whiff of corruption in the air, as in the Mexican-American border town from Orson Wells’ Touch of Evil. I found it fascinating but not necessarily desirable as a future destination. One night I went to a restaurant at which Bill Clinton had been served the night before. I now know what he eats these days: largely vegetarian, rice and beans, to be sure. His presence in the city helped to explain the legions of police we saw every ten metres. Just couldn’t figure out at first what that was all about.

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Finishing fast is what it’s all about in sports, sure…
July 12th, 2013

Finishing fast is what it’s all about in sports, sure. But it doesn’t work that way in other endeavours, like, say, sex.  Nor does it work that way, necessarily, in graduate school. But there has been so much pressure in the last few years to get students to complete their programs earlier than average that it’s come to this: a relatively new program at Brandeis University that asks students to sign a ‘commitment agreement’ that they will not work on anything besides their dissertations while getting financial support. Speaking of sex, it sounds a lot like a pre-nup. The student promises not to wander outside the relationship with the institution–no flirting, cavorting or sleeping around in other jobs or relationships permitted.

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This is one of the ugliest postcards I have or will ever send.
July 5th, 2013

This is one of the ugliest postcards I have or will ever send. I am in Halifax on some family business. This is the view from my downtown hotel room—a couple of guys window washing across the street in stinking hot temperatures. I bet they are fantasizing about rock climbing somewhere in a cool mountain valley. I have been watching them out of boredom and aversion to the punishing humidity. They’re making all the right moves, that’s for sure.

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