May 11th, 2009
I think this is a good ideaâ€”starting a blog on the School of Graduate Studies pages, that is. I am not planning on regretting it. I have been in the job less than a year and if there is one thing I have learned so far it is that there is an awful lot going on in this office.Â No day is like any other, and you never know what is going to come at you. Keeping your head down is not an option. I remember well a time when I could not imagine why anyone would want to dedicate most of their time to academic administration, and, in truth, like many of my colleagues, I more or less looked down upon many of those who had followed the call, so to speak. I thought that with few exceptions they were dangerously close to being dorks. Yet, here I am, occupying the very role I once failed to fathom. And I love it. Graduate Studies is a dynamic place, experiencing a surge of growth and an aggressive sense of possibility. The challenge to meet the high expectations Memorial has placed on the office is exciting. It requires strong team work, a heightened sense of responsiveness, openness to new opportunities, and a hell of a lot of energy. If I can keep leading my aerobics classes in the field house three times a week, with a weekly hula hoop session for core strengthening, then I think I can keep pace with the demands. Learning how to use more than one hoop at a time helps.
One of the major changes we are facing is sustaining a lively and fresh web presence. This blog is a part of our plan to reanimate the SGS pages, turning what is essentially stale or dead text and information into a much more developed site of activity. All you have to do is browse most major postsecondary institutions in this country to see just how tired they are. In the most egregious examples, the pages are way out of date and have that 1950s feelingâ€”as if they were borne out of someoneâ€™s how-to manual. In fact, they probably date from the mid-2000s, but everything dates so quickly now that if your pages fall behind you might as well be trying to sell a car without a radio.
For the vast numbers of students browsing for a place to study and a degree to acquire, an appealing, informed, and dynamic web site is essential. Weâ€™re working on it. As with so many academic institutions, we require more hands-on I.T.personnel to help departments maintain their pages. If a unit is lucky enough to have a smart geek on faculty or in the graduate program then you can be sure their site will pop out from the rest. Philosopher and department Head James Bradley has a terrific idea. He wants to hire full-time faculty with both academic expertise and web skills whose annual duties would be divided between teaching 2-3 courses, maintaining department web pages, and creating online courses in cooperation with colleagues in the same discipline. One minute youâ€™re teaching Heidegger, the next youâ€™re loading up an interview with a living philosopher you managed to tape or shoot at your last international conference. Job descriptions for academics would start looking quite different:
Memorial University, in conjunction with the Philosophy Department, invites applications for an assistant professor to teach Philosophy and manage the unit web site with an anticipated start date of September 1, 2009. The successful applicant will be responsible for teaching the following courses: Metaphysics, Deductive Logic, and three introductory courses.Â Among the qualifications required for appointment is the Ph.D. degree in hand or expected by the beginning of fall semester, 2009. Candidates must demonstrate interest and potential excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching, including online delivery. They must also demonstrate an ability to manage web content, be a strong writer and editor, with emphasis on story/contextual editing, and be experienced in the non-linear presentation of information.
Wouldnâ€™t that be nice? We should be moving in that direction, I think. Anyhow, this office gives me a lot to blog about, and so I shall be sharing my thoughts and experiences about grad studies matters on this site as regularly as possible, like it or not!