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Week in Review

We made it! It’s the Friday of Memorial Day weekend which means summer is finally here! Commencement photos will be replaced by reunion photos in my Twitter feed (particularly once I head back to my alma mater next weekend for my—gasp—20th reunion), vacations will kick off (have a great trip next week, Kyle!) and sunscreen usage will spike.
Whatever you’ve got planned for the long weekend and the upcoming summer, I hope it’s magnificent and I’ll hope you’ll start it off with all the great higher ed news and views below.
What’s new this week:
Drake University Professor Nancy Berns was one of a panel of experts weighing in on the death sentence given to Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. In this piece originally published in The Conversation (and also picked up by The Boston Globe, Quartz, Epoch Times and Fair Observer), she argues that the death sentence doesn’t bring closure to victims or witnesses. Professor Berns’ expertise was also featured in a similar piece on
Research by the University of Queensland’s Katharine Gelber was featured on WAMC’s Academic Minute. Listen to her discuss free speech policies in the wake of the September 11th attacks here.
What we’ve been talking about:
This week, Ali Lincoln talked about the challenges of letting go of the students we support, and how to best ease their transition from college student to independent adult.
And over on Inside Higher Ed’s Call to Action blog, Teresa Valerio Parrot urged colleagues to avoid the copycat crisis trap by learning from the challenges of others.
What we’ve been reading:
Erin Hennessy
When I went to work in the House of Representatives, I was amazed by all of the services provided to members and staff to make the long hours and hectic pace easier to manage. Without leaving the Capitol complex, you could eat your meals, get your hair cut, have your dry cleaning done, do your banking, send your mail, book your travel, see a doctor, get your shoes shined, even buy a car. But the number of people required to make those services available is dwarfed by the number who tend to the buildings themselves. This Washington Post piece, which includes video and striking photos, takes readers inside the night shift at the Capitol.
A large portion of the TVP Comms team mourned the end of Mad Men this week (see Kristine’s reading list below) and there were any number of links to think pieces about what it all meant shared between us on Slack. But here’s my favorite tribute to the brilliant, brooding and flawed Don Draper, the magnificent silver fox Roger Sterling, and the unstoppable and resilient Peggy Olson and Joan Holloway Harris.
Kristine Maloney
As if journalist job security wasn’t already a big issue, there is a new software program—being used by media outlets including the Associated Press—that generates simple news stories without a human present. It’s kind of mind-blowing to think about, especially with a creative tasks like writing, but it’s here and there are plans to make it even more sophisticated. Check out what happened when NPR’s Scott Horsley went head to head with a machine to produce a news story. (I prefer Scott’s story, but it did take him more than double the time to write.)
Catherine Rampell’s column about what it’s like to be a woman working on Capitol Hill also drew my attention. Her piece, which is based on a National Journal survey, read like a scene out of Mad Men. When the series ended this week, I said goodbye to one of my favorite television shows with a sense of empowerment and gratitude for strong woman like Peggy and Joan who broke down barriers. But reading Catherine’s column made me rethink how much work there is still to be done.
At the same time, the coverage of a Harvard study on the advantages for children of working mothers was so meaningful for me personally and hopefully will be one step toward changing the work culture for women in our country.
Teresa Valerio Parrot
I’m the team’s resident science geek. And, actually, overall geek. My undergraduate minor is in environmental, population and organismic biology (in other words, anything a cell or larger), and I still love being paired with faculty members who are studying topics like tracking evolution through mitochondrial DNA, climate studies and how our coast lines are shifting, and the migratory patterns of specific species of birds. So, this rainy holiday weekend I’m reading Galapagos: The Islands that Changed The World and rereading of The Origin of Species. Pretty nerdy— and I’m happy!
A shout out to The Chronicle for a great Diversity in Academe series on first generation students. If you only read one article, I suggest Katherine Mangan’s “The Challenge of the First-Generation Student.” It’s a great primer on work being done across academia.
Kyle Gunnels
This week saw the end of the Late Show with David Letterman. Dave was always one of my favorites to watch growing up because of the way he sarcastically approached everything he did and the unconventional approach he took at times when interviewing guests. The daily top 10 list is something that really harnessed the power of short, quick, memorable content well before the age of Twitter. Therefore, I want to share Dave’s last top 10 list, featuring some big names in the entertainment industry.
Ali Lincoln
I love the written word, and I love plants. So naturally, I love well-written pieces that involve plants. This sweet little post made my smile when I read it this week.
I’ve also been following reporting on Senator Bernie Sanders’ call for free tuition at four-year public institutions. This has been my favorite article so far on the subject, and here’s my favorite broadcast piece.
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