Monthly Archives: October 2007

My Life, My Odometer!


Uma Gupta writes..

A friend sent this to a friend who sent it to me! The story of my life is captured in these words!

We set out on life’s journey hoping, wishing, and fairly confident that the road ahead will be smooth. We wish for smooth sailing, but life’s best lessons are learned on unpaved roads. It builds courage, resilience, perseverance in us. It tests our faith and reaffirms our faith. The fork in the road is always about choices: take the easy road or take the road that is right and tall. May you be blessed to walk on unpaved roads!

Some people try to turn back their odometers.

Not me, I want people to know why I look this way.

I’ve traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved!

Read the rest of this entry

Uma Gupta writes – What we did to Larry Summers says more about us than about him!


A fascinating article titled, “Academic Inquisitors, in one of the few truly intelligent newspapers left on Planet Earth: the Wall Street Journal dated October 16, 2007. It is worth reading.

Remember Larry Summers? Oh, yes. Remember the beating got? Oh, yes.

Regardless of whether you agree with Summers or not, the way academia has behaved and continues to behave over a statement that he made tells more about academia than it does about Larry Summers. That is the simple truth of it all.

Read the rest of this entry

US News&World Report – what the rankings REALLY mean


In many ways, the rankings of US News and World Report no longer hold the prestige and sterling reputation it once did? Why? Because almost every college receives some ranking or the other by some group or the other. It is difficult to find an institution today that is has not received some ranking or the other. As a parent or a future student, such rankings boldly highlighted on college websites,give us a warm and fuzzy feeling. Of course, we say to ourselves, if this institution is ranked, by God it must be a good institution. Buyer Beware! Nothing could be further from the truth.

Recent rankings of US News and World Report identify institutions that would surprise even the faculty and students at these institutions. The education offered under the title of “world-class education” is neither world-class nor is it a strong education. No wonder employers complain that many of the graduates of today cannot write, lack critical thinking skills, and are poor problem-solvers. More important, at some of these institutions, exposing students to global issues and cultural understanding is anathema. Not only do these institutions not offer global programs, they actively work behind the scenes to discourage students from pursuing global opportunities. The Spellings report is telling in that the issues identified as roadblocks to preparing a highly educated global workforce have not changed in the last decade or so. So we must get beyond rankings. We must look closely at the criteria behind such rankings. Would the authors of the US News and World Report study send their kids to institutions that they rank as top 25 or top 50. I am quite confident that they would not. So look before you leap.

The Continuing Significance of Racism


The American Council of Education ( published a report called, “The Continuing Significance of Racism: U.S Colleges and Universities” under the guidance of the Office of Minority Education.

Unfortunately you have to buy the report! It is not readily available or widely disseminated. Now think about it. There aren’t that many of us in academia who wake up in the morning and worry about racism in academia. We have seen it, we know it exists, we know how to ignore it, and we certainly know not to talk about it and definitely not to write about it. The code of silence serves us well.

So when an organization like ACE forms a commission and publishes a report, why would they not generously disseminate the report and create a national conversation around it? Why not? Because like many other reports, the work ends when the report is published! A sound bite on the evening news about the plight of women and minorities, a couple of interviews here and there, and life returns to normalcy. There is one quote in the report that is available on the net and here it is:

For today’s higher education leaders to be bold and innovative, they must ensure that the college settings ar truly hospitable toward and supportive of student, faculty, and staff from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. These leaders need to hear and take very seriously the voices of students and faculty of color.

Job done.

All Bad Things Must Come to an End!


Yesterday I walked to my mail box and out came the latest issue of Forbes. I stopped dead in my tracks. The headlines read, “Hiding Behind the Net: ANONYMITY LETS CREEPS, CRIMINALS, and MALICIOUS MOBS RUN WILD.” You may ask, “What’s the big deal?”

It is a HUGE deal if you have been the victim of one or many of these CREEPS and you are saying finally FORBES deemed it worthwhile to cover this issue. Halleluiah! Halleluiah! I love you FORBES!

Read the article at (you have to be a member – become one if nothing else to read this article!!)

Here is an excerpt from the article:
Question this right of Net anonymity and you risk an unmitigated thrashing (anonymously, of course). So maybe we are asking for trouble when we dare to say that Internet anonymity is out of control. Today the Net still protects the abused and the disenfranchised, people who go online for help because they can do so in secret. But it also shields creeps, criminals and pedophiles. It emboldens the mean-spirited and offers them a huge audience for spewing hatred and libel. Caustic cowards are free to one-up one another in invective and vitriol–haters who would tone it down if they had to identify themselves. A backlash has begun, and it could gain support in Congress and in the courts unless the Internet industry itself finds new fixes. “People are cruel,” says Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer at MySpace, which requires no ID data for any post. “Anonymity doesn’t inspire this, but it does remove the fear to think, to act and to explore.”
End of quote.

What can I say? Every sentence in the article is worth posting. It is filled with examples of slander, lies, libel by anonymous posters. Remember what happened at Alfred State College? A blog that purported to talk about academic issues attacked women viciously. Here is one sample posting! There were many like this, but it shows you what happens when CREEPS hide behind anonymity. They write such posts and then go home to their daughters, wife, mother, and sisters! Names have been withheld in the posting.

Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 9:41 am Post subject:

Of course X needed to do shameless toadying with X. Sleeping around like she did in the past won’t have worked (we assume).

Guest Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 5:51 pm Post subject:

If sleeping around was all that she did wrong, then leave her alone. If she were a man, she would have been considered a stud in the administration before X, not a slut. X also has X, and we all know that his general Hemingway fantasy life has probably got him to do a little of that along the way too–if not literally, then figuratively.

Hell, let’s just cut to the chase. The administration is a pack of whores, and we have all been cuckolded by SUNY, for we have been made to not call them what they are, and we have been made to sit on our hands while they are burning down the house.


What can I say? All BAD things must come to an end. After all, this is America! Yeah!

Standing on the shoulders of so many before us


Hundreds, may be even thousands, of books have been written on leadership. Still when one is faced with gut-wrenching challenges there is no manual to reach for. No one book on leadership exists that tells you what to do or how to face challenges. There is no book that walks you step-by-step through the process of being a popular leader while making difficult choices. The only place that you can reach into is your heart, your core values, your mental and moral DNA. At such times, there is always the temptation to take the easy way out. The easy road is so darn tempting.
Just let it go.
Move on.
Forget it.
Yet precisely at that time you must stop dead in your tracks. You must pause. And you must ask, “What would have happened to me if those before me had done the same thing?” Moved on.
Would women today enjoy the right to vote?
Would women be in the armed forces?
Would women sit on boards?
Would women be encouraged to pursue an education?
Would women be assured of a safe workplace?
Would maternity leave and family leave have been a reality?
Indeed we stand on the shoulders of so many who went before us. who struggled for us, who made sacrifices knowing fully well that they may not, will not, live to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Yet they did it. What motivated these people? Were they just made of a different fabric? Were they born with courage or did they do what they needed to do without even realizing that they were bold, courageous visionaries. Whatever it is the truth remains that we stand on the shoulders of many extraordinary human beings who went before us and cared for us and worked hard so that we can live better lives. We have an obligation to lend our shoulders so that the next generation can stand on it. It ain’t an easy road, but we must leand our shoulders so that our daughters, sisters, spouse, mothers, and friends will be treated with respect and dignity in what should be the safest of all places – universities and colleges – but unfortunately today is not always a safe or welcoming place for women.

Women Administrators Carry a Special Burden


Many women administrators in higher education will admit in private, and many in public, that the world of higher education is often unkind, unforgiving, unfair, and frankly brutal at times, to women faculty and administrators. This is not to say that male faculty and administrators don’t at sometime or the other in their careers experiences the same debilitating environment. This is simply to say that research and evidence shows that women administrators and faculty experience this more than men do.

Why is this case? What is it about the environment in higher education that makes it hostile for women and minorities? I will discuss them one by one in my upcoming posts. There are many white papers, commission reports, studies, and surveys that outline a host of reasons. Many of them are wrapped under the cloth of “social issues,” but equally many relate to the tolerance of the higher education community for what is blatantly wrong, simply unjust, and absolutely antiquated.

Creating change in higher education is not for the faint-hearted. Creating any change in a higher education is a slow dance, a very, very slow dance. Creating rapid change, even if it is desperately needed, is the kiss of death. While everyone will agree that change is needed, few want it, even fewer expect it, and less than a handful seek it. The pace of change in academia itself needs change. Within this context of slow and slower, creating a nurturing environment for women and minorities is a monumental task. Regardless of what Presidents’ and other public spokespersons may say, diversity and a fair working environment are not high priorities for many stakeholders on many campuses. If you are campus is an exception, congratulations! You are among the few. Diversity is nice talk. Everyone applauds the speaker, usually the President. And then people go home and come back to debilitating work environments to start the cycle of slow dance all over again. It is time for change. It is time for meaningful change at a rapid clip. Even if we do so, we will still be far behind corporate America. In my next posting, I will share some of the recommendations of commissions of the past and why even simple, easy to implement changes continue to remain on book shelves.

Women in Higher Ed


Lots of talk.
Lots of talk for several decades.
Same problems.
Same problems for several decades.
Little or no action.
Little or no action for several decades.
The talkers feel good.
The talkers have felt good for a long time.
The doers watch – silent, frustrated, yet hopeful.

This is a simple summary of the state of affairs of women in higher education. For several decades, there have been reports, commissions, studies, surveys, conferences, workshops, books, articles, white papers, and editorials on the status of women in higher education. Yet, in the last several decades, no significant or meaningful change has taken place. Yes, those who believe that even small change is significant change will cry fowl. Oh, we have accomplished so much in such a short span of time – they will say. Change takes time, they will console women who want action. But for those of us in academia we know all too well that change is long overdue and very slow to come. Why? Why is this the case? Why is it that educators are not able to educate their colleagues and leaders about why change is critical and overdue? Why are we still a nation of talkers than doers? More to follow……..