The Weekly Blab
Volume 6, Issue 27—April 19, 2012
The world is changing pretty rapidly these days, and many people feel that things are out of control. In previous BLAB’s, I’ve written a lot about the “new normal” that we’re heading into, and a gazillion articles have appeared in the Chronicle and other places about it too. The published responses to those articles are always interesting—some people getting it, some nitpicking about some aspect (and thereby missing the larger point), and some digging in their heels and trying their best to hold back the flow of time.
One of the pleasures of working at SPSU is the larger than average number of people who get it that you run into. Some of these folks are on our faculty or staff, some are our students, some are people we’re interviewing to possibly hire, and some are guests. So, I thought I’d devote this column to just some of these people who I’ve run into lately who get it, in one way or another. Don’t see your name here? Don’t worry—I’ll come back to this from time to time with more examples.
Keely Clay (IET) hit on an unusual form of recycling—she invited a group of girl scouts onto campus, and conducted a two day workshop on converting trash into fashion. The girls took recycled paper, cloth fragments, and anything else they could get their hands on, and created some pretty snazzy fashions, which are now on display down (until Monday) in Building M. Keely is one of many faculty at SPSU who gets it about the importance of outreach to young students, and building the STEM pipeline that’s critical to our future. It’s a cool exhibit—go down and take a look.
Our two guest speakers last week get it. On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending Anne Richards’ talk on her Fulbright trip to Tunisia, and a fascinating talk it was. Anne clearly gets it as she spoke about the hopes and aspirations of the students she taught in Tunisia, and how their suspicions that initially greeted her (Who was she? Why was she in Tunisia? Was she a CIA spy?) melted away over time and were replaced with a broader global understanding about the humanity we all share. Anne spoke to a fascinated audience of faculty, staff, and students who filled the room beyond its capacity, and related funny and touching stories and beautiful pictures about a place that few of us will ever get the chance to visit.
On Thursday, I attended Kelly Golnoush Niknejad’s talk about the Tehran Bureau, a news agency she founded whose mission is to provide an evenhanded portrayal of the news from Iran to the world. She works with Iranian writers from all perspectives, some who write openly under their own names, and some whose identities are hidden because writing what the government doesn’t want you to in Iran can get you and your family in some seriously deep trouble. In doing so, she has taken on several personal risks—risks to her safety, risks about being objective on a very controversial area, and risks about telling the truth to people who often don’t want to hear it. Kelly gets it about how serious journalism can function (even without much money) in the internet and Twitter age—i.e., in the new normal. I think I surprised her when I said that she reminded me of Clark Kent—because she created a space for truth and justice that didn’t previously exist—except that she doesn’t have a secret identity. I’m hopeful that we’ll find a way for Kelly and SPSU to interact in the future.
I’m proud to say that SPSU is a campus that gets it when it comes to promotion of a global perspective. We have faculty who have had similar Fulbright experiences—Tom Rotnem (in Latvia), Omar Zia (in Tadjikistan), and Iraj Omidvar (in Tunisia—he’s Anne’s husband, so they were there together, of course)—and we’ve hosted several Fulbright recipients on our campus for long or short periods as well, including our current Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant, Ignacio Lau. Nick Gillian, a Fulbright scholar, will be visiting our campus to speak at the Polytechnic Summit this June, while Meg Dillon will be going to France this summer as a Fulbright Specialist. As a University, we now provide financial support for faculty who are accepted into the Fulbright program.
One more example for this week of getting it was evident this morning, when I met with some of the many SPSU folks who are working to develop SPSU’s plan for prior learning assessment as part of our involvement in the Adult Learning Consortium. The ALC model has been picked up by the USG as an important element in the Complete College Georgia effort. Anyway, if that wasn’t enough, everyone there (Dawn Ramsey, Adeel Khalid, Greg Wiles, Andy Wang, Austin Asgill, and Becky Rutherfoord) was also involved in one aspect or another of developing or analyzing converged courses—courses that can simultaneously be taken live, hybrid, or online—a subject we’ll be presenting on at the ALC summer conference (and I believe at a lot of places beyond that). Converged courses are, I believe, a significant part of the answer to the “new normal” in higher education, and multiple departments, faculty, and staff at SPSU are working in innovative ways to move us in the right directions for the future. Why all this innovation? Because we get it.
Chelsea Gets It
For at least this week, beloved Chelsea gets it, winning both its FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham Hotspur in a 5-1 rout, and beating what is arguably the best soccer team in the world, Barcelona, 1-0 in leg one of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals. The fabulous Didier Drogba was the scorer of the only goal. So now it’s off to the FA cup final against Liverpool, and to leg 2 of the UEFA semi-finals. So just remember:
Blue is the colour, football is the game
We're all together, and winning is our aim
So cheer us on through the sun and rain
'cause Chelsea, Chelsea is our name
Last Week’s Trivia Contest
Last week’s trivia contest was in honor of our two speakers, with all questions having to do with Anne’s or Kelly’s. The top scorer was Vickie Moody (MET), with an excellent 4.5 out of 5 correct. Here are the correct answers:
This Week’s Trivia Challenge
This week’s trivia contest focuses on getting it, so every answer has the word “get” (or a derivative) in it. No looking up the answers now—first with the most get’s the loot!