A Tired Stroll Down Memory Lane

When most of us turn 60, or thereabouts, memory fires up at thoughts of college days: romantic walks about campus, inspiring professors and books that opened our eyes, big games against rivals and stirring calls to “come help change the world!”  A recent symposium at the University of Minnesota sparked the same urge to reminisce, but this time the thoughts were entirely different.  It was a sad, weary, frustrating stroll down a memory lane made for old radicals.

The Whole Is Less Than the Sum of the Parts

I am often stumped by a paradox of academic life: Individually, most academics are very pleasant, engaging, thoughtful people that I’d want for neighbors.  However, when academics act institutionally, that is, on behalf of some academic entity—say a whole school, department, or faculty committee—then something, or someone else, seems to emerge from some ideological, disciplinary, or personality-driven underworld.