My holiday celebrations have already started with a trip back up to New England to visit family this week. Truthfully, I was excited to see some snow, since it’s not quite Christmas without snow in my book. But, with dangerously low temperatures (-20 degrees with the wind chill) today and a winter storm coming in tomorrow, I’m already over it. I miss a lot of things about living in New England, but winter weather isn’t one of them. Brrrrr! Be sure to bundle up if you’re in the arctic blast zone!

And here are the week’s higher ed headlines all bundled up for you to read.

What’s new this week:

Congratulations to Dr. Marjorie Hass who was named the 20th president of Rhodes College this week. An accomplished leader and experienced educator, she will be the first woman to lead the Memphis college. News of the announcement was covered by numerous media outlets. Highlights include: Chronicle of Higher Education Daily Brief, University Business, Memphis Business Journal, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, Commercial Appeal, Memphis Magazine, Channel 5 WMC, Channel 3 WREG, and Memphis Daily News.

News of the announcement also ran in the Associated Press, which resulted in dozens of placements across the U.S., including Houston, San Antonio, and San Francisco.

The College of the Holy Cross landed on the front page of the Boston Globe with a feature on its new Thomas P. Joyce Contemplative Center and student retreats.

This week, the University of Virginia’s Miller Center and the National Commission on Financing 21st Century Higher Education has released its culminating report on creating sustainable financial models for higher education. The report details current funding challenges and recommendations for reaching a goal of 60 percent degree attainment in the working-age population by 2025. In addition to a panel event this week, coverage of the report included Inside Higher Ed, Education Dive, POLITICO’s Morning Education, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, AASCU, and UVA Today.

On the fourth anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, Drake University professor Darcie Vandegrift weighed in on why “thoughts and prayers” mentality and sentiments after mass shootings fall short. The piece originally appeared in The Conversation, and also ran on the home page of Salon, Raw Story and the Associated Press.

This week on Inside Higher Ed’s Call to Action blog, posts featured surprises from research on how teens use college websites and tips on how to make facts sexy again.

Cristal has a great plan for you to build and foster relationships on campus—throw a party!

And don’t miss her advice in this CASE Currents article on communicating when a student dies.

What’s next on our calendars:

On January 7, Teresa will be conducting media training for the ACE Fellows mid-year retreat in San Diego.

Teresa will co-chair CASE’s Annual Conference for Media Relations Professionals, which will be held January 11-13 in New York City.

What we’ve been reading:

Erin Hennessy
My first answer to this question is this Washington Post article about one of my favorite places in Washington, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe. It’s everything you want in an independent bookstore—small, cramped, a little disorganized, and full of characters. Plus, they serve a great brunch in the cafe. Recently, Kramers bucked the independent bookshop trend by being bought by a local restauranteur and expanded. There’s now a bigger children’s section and plans are in the works to refresh the cafe and bar area. Tonight, a friend and I are meeting for happy hour at Kramers to see the new addition and support a true local institution, so my second answer to the question of what I’m reading will be answered later tonight, when I walk out of Kramers with a full bag of books for the holiday break.

Teresa Valerio Parrot
This year I’ve decided to outsource the baking of sugar cookies. Truth be told, I love decorating and eating them, but not the time consuming baking of them. I’ve found a bakery in Boulder that allowed me to send in my family’s sugar cookie recipe and select the shapes I would like (which of course includes a buffalo), all for pick up on Saturday. The cost is not much more than the oodles of butter and cream cheese I would need to buy to make the cookies myself. This frees up my time to try some new recipes, including some for other cookies. Right now I am up to my eyeballs in magazines (Cook’s Illustrated, Food Network and Martha Stewart Living) and am having fun exploring websites (Yummly, Epicurious and NYT Cooking) and blogs. May your caloric intake for the holidays make your heart and tummy happy!

Kristine Maloney
One of my all-time favorite books is Carlos Eire’s memoir, Waiting for Snow in Havana. I’ve read it multiple times, but when I heard the news of Fidel Castro’s death I couldn’t help but read it again. With stories of Cuban oppression fresh in my mind from recent news coverage, the story had a bit of a different feel than previous times I read it. And, this was the first time I’ve read it since having children. Because the story is told from the point of view of the author as a young boy, the book had an even more powerful impact on me. If you haven’t already, and you like nonfiction that reads like a novel, read this book. It was a National Book Award Winner for a reason. And it’s a good reminder, that despite the problems in our country, we are still fortunate to live in the United States, where things aren’t perfect, but are certainly closer to it than many other countries.

Cristal Steuer
I love reading all the joyful and heartwarming news during this time of year. One of my favorites that I stumbled upon this week is the Yule Dog. “Sancho” Claus, a Jack Russell Terrier, drives around in a red and white Volkswagen (complete with garland) at a hospital in California cheering up the patients.

Another favorite, a military wife, Ashley, figured out a way to have a family Christmas card even with her husband stationed in Iraq. She got creative with Photoshop having her husband pose in Iraq with a “Merry” sign, while she and her four children posed with a “Christmas” sign in Colorado. Make sure to check out these creative photos.

Ali Lincoln
Every year, I find myself more and more drawn to articles about adults not exchanging holiday gifts (kids are excused, in my opinion). To be clear, I love the Christmas season and I love presents. Actually, I even love finding a gift that I know someone will love, so it’s not that I’m a Grinch. It’s just that, as an adult, I buy most of the things I need and many of the things I want for myself, often after research and consideration of things that are important to me. I appreciate the thought that comes with any gift that I receive, but I don’t truly need most of them, and many end up getting donated after not getting used. I love the idea of homemade edible gifts or gifts that combine experiences and quality time with loved ones, and slowly, slowly, part of my family is shedding the gift-giving tradition among adults.

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