Wherein I get personal

Every now and then, I will likely get personal on this blog. It’s my nature to share (some might say overshare) about my personal life, as it clearly shapes who I am as a scholar.

I’ve just wrapped up my fifth year as an assistant professor at the USC Rossier School of Education. Rossier is a small school of education. We’ve got fewer than two dozen tenure-track faculty members, and our PhD program is typically in the 10-15 student range per year. But what we lack in numbers we make up for in quality and collegiality.

In terms of quality, there’s no question that my colleagues are remarkably influential in both research and policy circles. We have notable experts in higher education, K-12 policy, educational psychology, and teacher education. Particularly in K-12 (the area about which I know the most), we have experts on virtually every major policy issue of the day: teacher evaluation and labor policies, accountability, privatization and markets, education finance, and standards-based reforms. And that’s great. We’re doing work that matters for kids.

But there’s another way in which Rossier is a special place. Often you hear about faculties where multiple people can’t be in the same room with each other because they hate each other so much. There’s even a name for this phenomenon, Sayre’s Law:

In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake. That is why academic politics are so bitter.

We don’t have that at Rossier. There’s not one of my colleagues I don’t like, and (to my knowledge) none of them don’t like me. I don’t know if it’s just happenstance of who is here (that has to part of it; we don’t have any of the poisonous personalities you often see populating the twittersphere) or something about the institution, but it’s truly a delightful place to work.

This morning I’ll be having my faculty colleagues over for a brunch to celebrate the end of our academic year. All of ’em. It’s the rare institution where one could do that. I hope we all recognize how fortunate we are to work with such great people who happen to do such great research.


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