This is the second time I’ve seen Trinity beat Millsaps at home in the waning minutes of the game… although the first time back in 2004 was a tad more conventional than Saturday’s example:
Update: Timothy Sandefur asks, “is this how [football]’s really supposed to be played?” Well, no, but when you’ve only got two seconds left on the game clock, reverting to rugby is about the only option available other than the hail mary.
I knew Samuel Kernell had taught at Ole Miss (I had the very pleasant experience of meeting him at a poster session at APSA about seven years ago—he was one of only a handful of people to look at my poster, so we chatted for a few minutes), but I had no idea he was a Millsaps political science graduate. If I’d have known that, I’d have made my intro students there use The Logic of American Politics just on principle.
It's also amazing what completely random stuff that has nothing to do with what you were actually searching for can come up in Google.
I learned this evening that as of fall 2006, exactly none of the seven faculty members (including me) hired by Millsaps who started in fall 2004 will be still teaching at that institution. Now I don’t feel quite so special any more!
A former student at Millsaps asked me to help her out with avoiding retaking basic stats in her master’s program today, so I had to go hunting for all the information, including the catalog description. Weirdly enough, not only is my course website still lurking around at Millsaps, but I am still listed in the 2005–06 catalog as a professor in the department (see page 25 of the PDF). If Google (which is probably sentient at this point) thinks I still work there, does that mean I actually do and just don’t know it?
In other academic news, I just landed an interview at a liberal arts college in the Midwest for a one-year position in American politics and political behavior. Jobs, as they say, are good, and jobs higher up in the USN&WR rankings from Millsaps are priceless—even if there should be giant confidence error bounds on the rankings.
It wouldn’t be particularly surprising to see [Mike] DuBose move up to head coach [at Millsaps] sooner rather than later, as rumors of current head coach David Saunders moving on to a I-A assistant coaching job have been circling for a while—recently, he was rumored to be on the shortlist for Ed Orgeron’s staff at Ole Miss.
Former Alabama coach Mike DuBose is running his own football program in the NCAA again.
DuBose was promoted Friday at Jackson’s Millsaps College, a Division III school, to replace David Saunders. DuBose was Millsaps’ defensive coordinator last season.
Saunders left Millsaps after three seasons to take over as linebackers coach at Ole Miss [working for Ed Orgeron - ed]. The departure created the opening for DuBose to move into his first college head coaching position since 2000, when he was forced out after four tumultuous seasons in Tuscaloosa.
It’s almost a shame I couldn’t predict my own career prospects at Millsaps so easily…
Econ prof James D. Miller think colleges need to “fight” RateMyProfessors.com. I don’t know if it needs fighting, per se, but I’d say it’s only marginally valuable. For example, here at Duke I’m allegedly easy but at Millsaps I was easier yet was considered tough (and had the grade distribution to prove it—my classes were consistently below the college’s mean GPA).
That said, I don’t mind student-centered evaluations and have even lauded one effort to compile such things here at Duke, where the “official” evals for last semester are apparently so shrouded in secrecy that I still haven’t seen them 6 weeks after turning in grades. And I don’t even mind student evals in general, although they almost certainly were a factor in my failing upward in the academic universe.
Though, as a political scientist looking for a job, the mentality noted by this commenter (allegedly a faculty member in my field) is somewhat disturbing:
I have been to two academic conferences within the year (academic year 2005–06) where colleagues were running tenure-track job searches (political science) and when I made recommendations regarding two individuals who I thought might be a good fit for both jobs, I received subsequent emails that,“after having checked RMP” (talk about unprofessional behavior!!!) there were “concerns” whether either of the recommended colleagues could teach in liberal arts enviornment. Clearly RMP is being looked at by folks on search committees. Don’t believe for a minute that after having looked at RMP folks are not influenced by what they read. And don’t believe that search committee members are not going directly to RMP to, as I was told, “a snapshot” of job candidates. AAUP and the national associations for the various disciplines ought to step in on this debate and come down clearly on RMP and its use in job searches etc.
Sunday’s New York Times carries this article about “merit aid” at liberal arts colleges that pretty much reflects a year’s worth of faculty meetings at Millsaps, the centerpiece of which was often discussion by the dean of problems with our 40-odd percent “discount rate,” which largely reflected our inability to squeeze all of retail out of parents who could afford Millsaps’ relatively light (by liberal arts college standards, at least) sticker price.
þ: Amber Taylor, who is miffed at the Times for its strategy in selecting which colleges to discuss.
Update: Lurker and forthcoming co-author Dirk points out this Daniel Gross post that takes note of a rather serious incongruity between the headline and the article in question.
A second colleague at Millsaps had their contract non-renewed this week. In the counterfactual universe, where I did get the tenure-track job last year, I’d probably be looking for another job starting right now.
Well, almost nothing: I got my Flickr schwag in the mail today. Yay! Now to figure out what I’m going to do with this stuff…
I also got a report in the campus mail detailing the grade distribution in my classes last academic year. I don’t know what’s more disturbing: that my average grade assigned both semesters was a B (3.05 in the fall, 2.97 in the spring), or that this placed me well in the bottom half of the faculty in terms of average GPA (42nd percentile in the fall, 33rd percentile in the spring).
I got my written evaluations today, and while some of it was bizarrely contradictory (some people complaining that my lecture was too much like the book outline, others complaining that the tests and lecture had nothing to do with each other even though the tests came from the book materials!) I got a rather odd comment that I’d made “occasional anti-Catholic remarks and jokes” in my civil liberties class. I suppose there are a few things that could be stretched that way (mostly, a few Louisiana jokes), and maybe even a few things that could be construed as anti-religious in general (I generally stay away from that soapbox, although I will make an occasional “Ten Suggestions” joke for the Methodists in the audience), but I don’t remember singling out Catholics in particular. Weird.
One of the perks of only having one student in a class (in this case, Introduction to American Government) is that when you’re done, there’s no need to pad it out, or reexplain things six times so it might penetrate the skull of the kid in the back of the room who’s half-asleep. My wallet would have liked it had he had some compatriots, but I suppose on a per-hour basis I’m actually coming out ahead on the deal. It also helps to be using a textbook that’s readable by humans with minimal handholding.
Incidentally, it’s funny but I’d actually somewhat forgotten over the past four weeks how much fun it was to teach.
In the space of two days, my two closest friends in Jackson have up and left to do cool summer things for the next few weeks—one is doing research in Central Asia, while the other is headed up north to work on some projects and hang out with friends and family.
If it weren’t for my students in summer classes, I’d be almost completely abandoned at this point (although I’ve seen a few soon-to-be-ex-colleagues around and I’ll probably have lunch with some of them later on in the month). Of course, if it weren’t for my students, I’d be off doing something else myself—more likely than not, spending late June and most of July in Ann Arbor with stats geeks.
Without students, I probably also wouldn’t have been up at 8:30 this morning either, come to think of it.
In what seems to be becoming something of a theme, I had dinner this evening with yet another blogger—in this case, Signifying Nothing alumnus Robert Prather. We ended up talking for about three hours at the Steam Room Grille, mostly about graduate school but with some forays into politics and economics.
Like Robert, I start summer school Wednesday, albeit at the other side of the desk. I guess I should be working on getting organized for that, although at this point I’m still not even sure if I have enough students to bother teaching the classes, or, for that matter, to bother writing up syllabi—the per-student remuneration works out to be about minimum wage if only one student enrolls, although if you look at it as additional pay (since I am being paid through September 1st by Millsaps on my 9-month contract) rather than living pay it feels better.
Others are already doing the summer school thing, of course: Jeff Quinton isn’t having much fun so far, which I suppose is understandable given the material.
Stephen Karlson dressed down today to administer his final exams. I actually got a bit of joshing from the gallery when I showed up to give my intro final a couple of weeks ago in a polo shirt and jeans; apparently it never occurred to them that the main reason I wear a shirt, slacks, and a tie on days I teach is so I look older than they do.
Well, the real evaluations—rather than the fake ones here—are in, and they’re much better than those from last semester, by well over a standard deviation. (I’d sit down and do the independent samples t test, but I’m not that bored.t test below the fold…)
I’m just chalking this one up as yet another in a series of little ironies that have been running around for the past couple of months.
The result of the t test: p(I am not a better teacher now than I was in the fall) < 0.00062. I feel so much better now.
Every time I have some little complaint about my job, I should remind myself of today—or at least days like today, for today was commencement at Millsaps, and my first commencement as a faculty member (here or elsewhere). While I didn’t know these seniors as well as I might have liked, I hope I touched at least some of their lives in the way that professors past have touched mine.
Of course, it was a bittersweet day for me and a few other colleagues, including the oft-mentioned Kelly, as it also marks the official end of our employment by the college.* To all the friends, colleagues, and students (not mutually-exclusive!) I have encountered, it’s been a blast, and I’d do it all again… well, as long as I got a tenure-track contract next time!
* I will be teaching over the summer at Millsaps on an adjunct contract before moving to Durham in early August. Technicalities are annoying.
Elsewhere: Dr. Huffmon’s students love him (except the student who fails to properly recognize that he is the Messiah), but inexplicably fail to award the coveted chili pepper. Mass delusion, I tell you. (þ sorta-kinda: Mungowitz End)
Signifying Nothing formerly featured the stylings of Brock
Sides, a left-leaning philosopher turned network administrator
currently residing in Memphis,
Tennessee who now blogs at Battlepanda, and Robert
Prather, a libertarian-leaning conservative economist and
occasional contributor at OTB.