080517 / 080617 - First up on our quick Boston weekend-o'-touristing: a trip to the Skywalk Observatory on Saturday evening to admire the views, then a walk over to Boston Common and a stroll along the Freedom Trail to Faneuil Hall, where we ended the night at a dive bar playing incredibly loud and thoroughly enjoyable 90s music on the jute box. Sunday morning began with stop at the first Dunkin' Donuts, then a visit to the Scituate Lighthouse. A drive back into the city took us to the Bunker Hill Monument, then we hopped back on the Freedom Trail and headed over to the USS Constitution before bidding the east coast farewell; I owe a special "Thank You" to whomever set our flight path over the city, and D for allowing me to take the window seat for some great views. Also of note: I left my trusty little Passport to Your National Parks book at home, so had to make do with some stamps on scratch paper and Scotch tape after the fact.
D and I paid a visit to Sanderson's on our way out of Quimby's this year. Sam and Weeza Sanderson led us on a tour of the wood shop and showed us how their wooden bowls are made, then took us out into the fields to meet their sheep, goats, pony, cats and miniature donkeys! We chose two bowls to be shipped back to SLC, and picked up a few postcards for good measure.
Westminster is a huge fan of the flipped classroom approach to teaching, and sent a few of us out to Colorado Springs to attend the POGIL Southwest Regional Conference this past week. In addition to three days of discussing classics such as "teamwork", "oral and written communication", "management", "information processing", "critical thinking", "problem solving" and "assessment", I also learned an incredible amount of additional jargon as well. Ridiculous buzzwords aside, however, the conference was actually quite informative and I'm really looking forward to implementing some new ideas into my classroom for this fall!
070517 to 070917 - This month's whirlwind trip back to the Bay Area involved four and a half days of non-stop eating & coffee-drinking, wedding-attending, Lyfting and reunioning. A few stops on this visit: Porno Palace / Lake Merritt / Shan Dong / Ramen Shop / Heart & Dagger / Fournée Bakery / Humphry Slocombe / Heath Ceramics / Blue Bottle / Club Mallard / Piedmont Cafe / Oakland Museum / Golden Bull / Brown Sugar Kitchen / Trouble Coffee / Gaylord's
I posted the above entry here on this blog on May 20, 2015. This past Wednesday, it was publicly announced that Mills has officially declared a state of financial emergency with a reported budget deficit of over $9 million, and has made the decision to terminate the contracts of 11 tenured faculty members, many, if not all, of whom have devoted decades of their lives to the College and, more importantly, to their students. In addition to the tenured faculty, Mills will also be cutting numerous staff, full-time and non-tenure-track (NTT) positions as well, and is furthermore eliminating the entire Philosophy Department and merging many of the remaining departments in hopes of cutting costs.
While I am now two years removed from Mills and thus am unaffected, professionally, by these decisions, I am nonetheless personally overwhelmed by this news. As a passionate and dedicated educator, it positively kills me to know that Mills will undoubtedly suffer a huge loss in parting with some of their most well-respected and established faculty and staff members, individuals whose contributions throughout campus, within the classroom and impact on the lives of students cannot be equated to their paychecks, however large or small.
I have the utmost confidence that the Board, current College President and all those in positions of leverage have not taken this decision lightly; I cannot even begin to understand the difficulty with which they must have made their final decisions, and I fully respect the unenviable position in which they too currently find themselves. Given the advanced state of decline in the College, frankly doing absolutely nothing at this point is simply not feasible. This said, however, I am utterly devastated over this proposed "solution", not only because I have dear friends and former colleagues who were selected for termination, but because I know and have personally experienced what a tight-knit and supportive community Mills encompasses.
The most positive outcome at this point, of course, would presumably be the recovery of financial stability and the avoidance of full closure of the College, but I worry that the negative impacts of these decisions, priceless as they are, cannot be ignored. My broken heart is with you, Mills College.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to more precisely describe White House press secretary Sean Spicer's location late Tuesday night in the minutes before he briefed reporters. Spicer huddled with his staff among bushes near television sets on the White House grounds, not "in the bushes," as the story originally stated.
Finally had a chance to meet this guy last weekend in Portland!
Happy Birthday to the coolest dad ever, I love you!!