Tag Archive: Academics

  1. Woodward, Bernstein use Yale students as bad example

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    Yale students came up during a Tuesday talk with Bob Woodward ’65 and Carl Bernstein, two journalists famed for digging up the Watergate Scandal for The Washington Post — and it wasn’t for their great wit.

    The talk, titled “Watergate 4.0: How Would the Story Unfold in the Digital Age?”, focused on whether web-savvy youths could uncover a scandal like Watergate via the Internet. During the talk, Woodward mentioned an experience with a Yale journalism class in which students had to write a 1-page paper on what coverage of a Watergate scandal would look like today. (Brill’s class, anyone?) The professor sent the papers to Woodward. The results weren’t pretty. Woodward said he “came as close as I ever have to having an aneurysm” because one of the students wrote “‘Oh, you would just use the Internet and you’d go to ‘Nixon’s secret fund’ and it would be there.’”

    Apparently, a “small ballroom” filled with journalists “chuckled or scoffed,” at the scenario. We can only imagine.

  2. Seven professors awarded tenure

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    Seven professors were awarded tenure at a Board of Permanent Officers meeting last Thursday, Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in an email to the News.

    Ian Quinn, an associate professor of music, Caleb Smith, an associate professor of English, Barry McCrea, an associate professor of comparative literature and English, Beverly Gage, an associate professor of history, and Alexey Fedeorov, an associate professor of geology and geophysics, were promoted to professors with tenure.

    Two others — Kirk Wetters, an associate professor of Germanic languages and literatures, and Helen Caines, an associate professor of physics — were promoted to associate professors with tenure.

    Miller said in an interview last week that since the University changed its tenure policy in 2007, more faculty members are being internally promoted to tenure, especially in the humanities. Five of the seven professors promoted today are in humanities departments.

    The Board of Permanent Officers is a committee of all tenured, full professors in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. It considers cases for promotions with tenure after those cases have been approved by a professor’s department and a Tenure Appointments and Promotions Committee. Only one internal case for tenure, that of associate ecology and evolutionary biology professor Suzanne Alonzo, was considered and approved at a Board of Permanent Officers meeting in December.

  3. Princeton Review ranks top 300 U.S. professors

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    Think your professors are the best in America? A new book out today from the Princeton Review “The Best 300 Professors,” names America’s top professors — and only two Yale faculty made the cut.

    Paul Bracken, a professor of management and political science at the School of Management, and Karen von Kunes, a senior lector in the Slavic Languages and Literatures Department, made the book’s list of 300 professors from 122 colleges and universities across the country. The book’s ratings are based on reviews from RateMyProfessors.com.

    Bracken teaches courses such as “Problem Framing” and “Business, Government, and Globalization” at the School of Management and has been rated the best professor in Yale’s executive education programs, according to the SOM website. Von Kunes teaches elementary, intermediate and advanced Czech, as well as courses such as “In Kafka’s Spirit: Prague Film and Fiction,” taught in Prague over the summer.

    How does Yale stack up with other schools? Harvard also had two professors make the list — including economics professor Gregory Mankiw — and Princeton had one. The Princeton Review also counted up how many “best professors” it found in each state, and concluded that New York has the most (25 professors), followed by Massachusetts (20) and California (19).

    The academic disciplines with the most “best professors” in the book are mathematics, psychology, English, history and biology, according to a press release from the Princeton Review.

  4. Prof. Gaddis takes home Book Critics Circle Award

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    The awards keep rolling in for Professor John Lewis Gaddis’s biography of American statesman George Kennan.

    The book, titled “George F. Kennan: An American Life,” was named the winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for biography late last week, the New York Times reported. The biography has already won the American History Book Prize, which earned Gaddis $50,000 and the title of American Historian Laureate.

    The National Book Critics Circle, founded in 1974, honors the “best literature published in English” in its annual awards. Prizes are awarded in six categories: autobiography, biography, fiction, nonfiction, criticism, and poetry. In winning the biography prize, Gaddis beat out contenders from Harvard, Penn and Columbia.

    “George F. Kennan: An American Life” was shortlisted for the Lionel Gerber Prize, an award presented by the University of Toronto, Foreign Policy magazine and the Lionel Gerber Foundation to the year’s best nonfiction book about foreign affairs.

  5. Gaddis wins national award for Kennan biography

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    After winning high praise among reviewers for his biography of George F. Kennan, history professor John Lewis Gaddis has won the seventh annual American History Book Prize for his work, the New York Times reported.

    The prize, which has been handed out by the New-York Historical Society, is awarded for a nonfiction American history book “that is distinguished by its scholarship, its literary style and its appeal to a general as well as an academic audience,” according to the society’s website. Gaddis will receive a cash award of $50,000 and the title of American Historian Laureate.

    Yale’s Cold War star began research on Kennan — the American diplomat known for articulating the United States’ “containment” strategy against the Soviet Union — back in 1982. The book finally appeared in print last November.

    Gaddis is also in the running for a National Book Critics Circle Award.

  6. Nemerov will leave Yale at the end of academic year

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    Alexander Nemerov GRD ’92, chair of the History of Art Department and the professor behind Yale’s most popular course, will leave Yale at this academic year’s end to start teaching at Stanford in the fall.

    [ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”737″ ]

    “I’m very sad that I won’t be teaching here anymore,” Nemerov said in a Tuesday interview. “I have great feelings about Yale and this was a very difficult decision, but I’m happy to begin the next phase of my career at Stanford.”

    In January, Nemerov told the News that he received a job offer from Stanford sometime after the start of the spring semester. At that time, he had not yet decided whether to stay. On Tuesday, he said he made his decision in the past few days.

    Nemerov’s survey course, “Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present,” was the most popular class this semester. Nearly 500 students were shopping the class before Nemerov decided to cap it.

    Nemerov is no stranger to Palo Alto — he taught at Stanford before joining Yale’s faculty in 2001.

  7. Miller wants NHPD chief to teach seminar

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    In a Monday interview with the News, Yale College Dean Mary Miller said she would like to have newly appointed New Haven Police Department Chief Dean Esserman teach a residential college seminar in Fall 2012.

    Esserman was sworn into office Nov. 18 and has begun rolling out a community policing strategy around the Elm City’s 10 districts. The background of this type of policing — which emphasizes community engagement and proactive policing over traditional response and enforcement — would be the topic of the potential residential college seminar, Miller said. Esserman is already teaching in a Law School clinic with Professor James Forman Jr. LAW ’92, Miller said. For his part, Esserman said he is looking forward to teaching, noting that the details of the seminar have not been finalized.

    “We’re working on developing what might be a college seminar proposal, engaging undergraduates in what community policing means,” Miller said. “I’d like to think that Dean Esserman is really engaged in not just managing a police force but in thinking about how do we build a community in which crime is less likely to erupt.”

    Esserman graduated from Dartmouth College and obtained his law degree from New York University — what Miller said was “not the usual trajectory” to running police departments. Yale’s residential college seminar program has a tradition of bringing “longstanding practitioners” to the classroom, Miller added.

    This semester, Yale College offers 20 residential college seminars.

  8. STERN: Freshman seminars should be mandatory

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    When it comes to getting the courses I want, I consider myself supremely lucky. Yes, last semester, I was not placed into the English seminar I wanted or the Spanish seminar I initially wanted. And yes, this semester I was not placed into the residential college or the science seminar I wanted. But, I was able to secure a spot in a freshman seminar both semesters.

    Freshman seminars should be mandatory. No student should begin his college career with only large, impersonal lectures. Unless a student is taking Directed Studies, he is not guaranteed a personal experience in the classroom. But he should be.

    I can tell you anecdote after anecdote about the benefits of a freshman seminar. There was the dinner I had with my professor first semester to discuss contemporary politics, and the talk I just attended given by Julian Bond, a major civil rights leader, which I wouldn’t have even heard was happening but for my freshman seminar professor.

    But there’s considerable empirical evidence as well. According to two of the most prominent researchers of higher education, Ernest Pascarella and Patrick Terenzini, who analyzed over 2,500 post-secondary studies relating to college and student development, “The weight of the evidence suggests that a first-semester freshman seminar is positively linked with both freshman-year persistence and degree completion. This positive link persists even when academic aptitude and secondary school achievement are taken into account.” Marymount College professor Joe Cuseo goes further, saying that freshman seminars increase both rate of retention and academic performance for students of all backgrounds in all types of academic institutions. There’s no denying it: freshman seminars work.

    Yale should mandate that all freshmen take (at least) one of these extraordinary, and apparently quite important courses. Some students — pre-med, perhaps — may protest that there isn’t enough time in their schedules. But surely they can spare one course of the nine they take freshman year, especially since freshman seminars can help fulfill distributional requirements otherwise difficult to meet. (Mine secured me a writing credit, which I’ve heard can be a scourge for some science-minded students.)

    The freshman experience at Yale is already renowned. But we can make it that much better.

  9. History grad students get new study space in HGS

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    Around 25 students, faculty and administrators celebrated the opening of a new study space for history graduate students Wednesday.

    The space — a suite of three former dorm rooms on the second floor of the Hall of Graduate Studies — is now available for graduate students in the History Department to study, meet with undergraduates and socialize, Graduate School Dean Thomas Pollard said. This comes as the Graduate School is making efforts to find more study spaces for its students, particularly in humanities departments that do not have space for students to meet and work.

    The Graduate School obtained the space by swapping a suite of rooms designated for the dean in the HGS tower for the second-floor dorm rooms, Pollard said. The rooms were “spruced up,” furnished and outfitted with a card key that will permit history students to access them. They are located up one flight of stairs from the HGS dining hall.

    Earlier this year, one room in Linsly-Chittenden Hall was identified for use by English graduate students, and the English Department has opened its faculty library to its graduate students, Pollard said.

  10. Nemerov might leave for Stanford next year

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    Alexander Nemerov GRD ’92, an esteemed art historian and chair of Yale’s History of Art Department, may leave for Stanford after this school year, he said in a Monday interview.

    Nemerov, whose “Introduction to the History of Art: Renaissance to the Present” was the most popular class on campus this semester, has not yet accepted or rejected a recent offer from Stanford. The professor declined to comment about when he needs to act on the offer, which he said he received during or after Shopping Period.

    The chair of Stanford’s Art History department could not be reached for comment on Monday.

  11. Prof. Gaddis nominated for big award

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    He won a National Humanities Medal in 2005 and has gained fame among Yalies for his lectures on the Cold War, but that’s not it for history professor John Lewis Gaddis.

    Gaddis, who teaches a History Department junior seminar on biography writing, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award on Saturday for his biography of American statesman George F. Kennan. The book was nearly 30 years in the making, as Kennan gave Gaddis unprecedented access to thousands of pages of his diary and other papers on the condition that the book be published after his death.

    The other contenders for the biography honor are below:

    The National Book Critics Circle gives awards annually to one book in each of six categories: autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction and poetry. We’re pulling for you, JLG.

  12. So you want to go to Yale-NUS?

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    Plane tickets to Singapore are expensive, but with the right course load, you too can get a Yale-NUS education — right here in New Haven!

    Yale-NUS students will be taking a 10-course core curriculum, including four courses studying the “Great Works” of the Eastern and Western literary traditions, according to the college’s proposed curriculum. It’s really not so different from what most humanities majors at Yale do every single day. So if these students were at Yale, what would they be taking? Let’s check it out.

    To get a full Yale-NUS experience, start with Directed Studies. This is ridiculous work, but on the bright side, it covers almost the entire Western half of the Yale-NUS reading list. Even better, the program is run by Jane Levin, easily the nicest first lady of any Ivy League university (hi Mrs. Levin!).

    Next up is the Eastern tradition. Since Yale doesn’t have Eastern DS, you’ll have to mix and match a bit. Here’s your best bets:

    SKRT 130a/LING 138a: Intermediate Sanskrit I

    The first half of a two-term sequence aimed at helping students develop the skills necessary to read texts written in Sanskrit. Readings include selections from the Hitopadesa, Kathasaritsagara, Mahabharata and Bhagavadgita. After SKRT 120b or equivalent.

    HUMS 418a/RLST 130a/SAST 367a, Traditional Literature of India, China, and Japan

    Introduction to literary works that shaped the great civilizations of Asia. Focus on traditional literature from India, China and Japan. Readings range from religious and philosophical texts to literature of the court, poetry, drama and epics.

    Now you have to take philosophy and poli sci classes. A little Steven Smith and Jay Elliot, and you should be fine:

    HUMS 319b/PHIL 324b, Prudence and Ethics

    Prudence as a central concept for understanding action, practical reason, and ethics. Focus on the tradition that flows from Aristotle to Thomas Aquinas and their twentieth-century inheritors and critics.

    PLSC 114a, Introduction to Political Philosophy

    A study of the first and most fundamental of all political concepts, the regime or constitution. Definition of a regime; evaluation of various kinds of regimes; the kinds of citizens that different regimes produce; differences between ancient and modern conceptions of constitutional government. Readings from Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Tocqueville.

    And then bam! You got a solid Yale-NUS education, folks! Just take all the D.S., four semesters of humanities, Sanskrit and political science, and you’re golden like the Singaporean sun.