.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tulane Honors Program

Monday, January 31, 2005


Friday a mother called me concerned about her freshman's safety during Mardi Gras and wondering what Tulane does about informing our students. If you are a student you should know already! ;-) Since HRL sent you an email, but as a refresher, the link above contains the info they sent. The Hullabaloo (the student paper) also has a very good piece (and more detailed than the one above) on practicing a safe Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is one very big party, so basically the same rules apply.

The Weekender Blog: Fact Entitlement

Evan is one of your Honors students at Tulane and is currently on JYA in London. He is also a regular (well, the only regular ;-) commentator on this blog. Here is a very interesting entry from his blog.

Clarification on Princeton's Grading Policy

From the Office of the Dean of the College:
Princeton's new expectations posit a common grading standard for every academic department and program, under which A's (A , A, A-) shall account for less than 35 percent of the grades given in undergraduate courses and less than 55 percent of the grades given in junior and senior independent work. These percentages are consistent with historical grading patterns at Princeton for the two decades between the early 1970s and the early 1990s. For departments that have maintained these patterns over the last decade, the new policy will affirm established practice. For other departments, the new policy will mark a significant break with recent practice. Overall, implementing the new expectations across the University will, at least at present, set Princeton's grade distribution well apart from those of its closest peers.

[Thanks to Scott C. for the link. -Cb]

Saturday, January 29, 2005

It's no longer a breeze to get straight A's and B's at Princeton U

[Princeton] University policy to combat grade inflation takes effect.

With Princeton University's exam period ending last week and the spring term starting Monday, the impacts of the university's new institution-wide policy to combat grade inflation soon will be felt.
The new grading policy first went into effect this fall. It establishes a common grading standard for every academic department and program at Princeton.
Under the new standard, A's shall account for less than 35 percent of grades given in undergraduate courses, and less than 55 percent of grades given in junior and senior independent work.
At Tulane our policy (AFAIK) has always been to give the grade earned. There are, of course, some facutly who curve, but this is usually the case when the entire class has done poorly on an exam. Princeton is trying to deal with the fact significant percentages of their classes do not get any grade below an A. One report I read stated that at Harvard over 50% of their students received A's and 92% of their seniors graduated with Honors. I don't think their solution would be mine, but I can't say that I have one. I can tell you that in my classes you get the grade that you earn.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

The Chronicle: 1/28/2005: Choosing Their Flock

This story at the Chronicle (this link is a 5 day free link) outlines the debate going on at several schools over whether or not evangelical Christian organizations are allowed to discriminate (i.e., not allow to join their group) people who do not hold their beliefs, viz., are gay or hold what the group views as heterodox beliefs. One snippet:
Meanwhile, the two sides continue battling. Proponents of nondiscrimination policies, including college administrators and gay-rights advocates, say Christian student groups that flout the rules should forfeit the subsidies that officially recognized groups receive.
However, the groups and their supporters say there is a higher principle at stake. Requiring a Christian-student association to admit non-Christians or gay people, "would be like requiring a vegetarian group to admit meat eaters," asserts Jordan Lorence, a senior lawyer at the Alliance Defense Fund, which is based in Scottsdale, Ariz. "It would be like forcing the College Democrats to accept Republicans."
I know that at least one regular reader of this blog has dealt with this on Tulane's campus. What do Tulanians think about this issue?

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Grants & Fellowships

This page is openly available (the rest of The Chronicle is subscription based) and has a number of grants and fellowship opportunities posted. The latest posted is a summer fellowship for minority sophomores:
The Institute for International Public Policy (IIPP) is seeking applicants for the eighth class of the IIPP Fellowship Program. Completed applications must be received by March 15, 2005 for the class that will begin in the summer of 2005.

Applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible:

* Sophomore student, enrolled full-time at a four-year institution

* U.S. Citizen or permanent resident

* Minimum 3.2 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale)

* Strong interest in a career in international service

* Underrepresented minority: African American, Hispanic/Latino American, American Indian, Asian American, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander

The Student Council Code

It is nice when certain interests come together in something like a comic. BTW, Bill Hollbrook must be the hardest working artist on the planet. He does three different strips, all run at least 5 days a week: Kevin and Kell (web only), Safe Havens, and On the FastTrack.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Tulane Marshall Scholar!

I don't know how many of you saw this, but Katie Clark has won a Marshall scholarship, in many ways more prestigious academically than a Rhodes. She will be attending Oxford this fall!

Ralph the Sacred River: Mondegreens

Wonder what a "mondegreen" is? Then go see Dr. Cook's site! (I will give you a sample below.) Ed is a fellow Aramaist and a great feller who is just too darn smart for his own good. His site is full of all sorts of interesting linquistic tidbits, like "mondegreens." SO... Be sure to visit his site, but here is the def:

I've learned by reading Siris that the title of this blog is a mondegreen. Don't know what a mondegreen is? The term dates from 1954, when writer Sylvia Wright revealed that she thought the words to a folk song were

They hae slain the Earl of Murray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

In fact, after slaying the poor Earl, they "laid him on the green."

My favorite example he provides from modern Hebrew is:

Danny Frese mentions the case of a friend who wondered what mastomeret in Modern Hebrew meant — ironic, since the misheard phrase was mah zot omeret, "what does it mean"?

Round Table Today!

I wanted to especially note our Round Table that will be TODAY (Wed) and remind folks that I am still looking for comments regarding our Round Table topics. Feel free to post comments here.

Round Table: Wednesday Jan. 26, 3:30 in Butler Lounge
Dr. Brent McKee, Prof. of Earth and Environmental Sciences - "To what extent should humans interfere with natural environmental processes, even if those processes lead to outcomes that we don't like, such as coastal erosion or the extinction of species?" Or "Where do those Christmas trees go?"

Monday, January 24, 2005

Google Search: defensing football

I do not usually get into snits over language, but "verbing" nouns really gets up my nose. I am also a sports fan and while I recognize that verbal creativity is a joyful part of the experience (may Dr. Samuel Johnson bless Yogi Berra!), the use of "defense" as a verb is starting to get on my nerves. "Pittsburgh is going to have a tough time defensing New England and Tom Brady's arm." I must have heard this verbal use of "defense" at least 5 times during the playoffs this weekend AND I only got to watch about 15 minutes of each game!

Oh, one more: "efforting." This is, I believe a new show-biz phenomenon. I primarily hear it when listening to ESPN Radio. Dan Patrick: "Showkiller, did you get Steinbrenner on the phone yet?" Phil the Showkiller: "Not yet. I am efforting to get him." Like nails on a chalkboard.

UPDATE: Once again Dilbert contributes to our discussion.

UPDATE #2: Ed Cook, a far better linguist than I will ever be, has commented on my rant at his blog.

Friday, January 21, 2005

UNC Chapel Hill's Book reading project

Below is part of the article on the Chronicle of Higher Education (it is a paid subscription so I will not give you all of it; if you would like it I am allowed to email you a free link version that is good for 5 days, just email me).

We have a similar program and had students read The Color of Water last summer. It also dealt with racial tensions and was our most sucessful choice to date (the program is 3 years old at Tulane). We are in the final stages of selecting a book for this summer. This is my first time helping with the selection and I have been surprised with how dificult a decision this is.

So - Do you have any suggestions of a work that will engage in-coming students' minds over the summer without being overly burdensome; create stimulating conversations for our session during orientation and contribute to their preparation for academic life at Tulane?

Chapel Hill Picks Book on Race Relations for Summer Reading Assignment

"The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will ask incoming freshmen and transfer students this summer to read a book about racial conflict in the South during the civil-rights era.

This year's selection, Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story (Crown Publishers, 2004), was written by Timothy B. Tyson, a professor of African-American studies at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In the book, Mr. Tyson, who is white, describes the aftermath of the 1970 murder of a young black man in the author's hometown, Oxford, N.C.

In a written statement, the university's Summer Reading Program Book Selection Committee said it hoped the book would 'inspire readers to confront the fears and emotions that often attend discussions of race and to engage in a secure and energizing dialogue informed by historical clarity.'"

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Apple, LSU launch 24-node Xserve G5 cluster | MacNN News

For those of us who are Apple fans we can only ask, Why LSU and not Tulane? ;-)

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

CNN.com - Poll: Nation split on Bush as uniter or�divider - Jan 19, 2005

I just wanted to say: Am I the only one who sees the humor in the title of this story?

Round Tables

One of our current programming offerings is to have a weekly round table. These are casual discussions with Tulane faculty and special guests that are designed to allow our H students to learn more about a field and faculty member in a laid-back setting. These are usually held at 4 pm on alternating Wednesdays and Thursdays in Butler lounge. (We have them at this time so that the faculty who are speaking are able to still get home at a reasonable time and we now keep them in Butler so that it is always in the same place.)

Tonight was our first round table and in response to an email announcment a student understandably complained that the time conflicted with labs for many students. He offered some very good suggestions, different days, different times, a lecture series, etc.

So I ask you, dear readers, what are your suggestions? What topics would you like to see? When/where/food?!

Did Harvard President say, "women lack the ability to succeed at the highest levels of math and science"?

The New York Times > AP > National > Committee Lambasts Harvard Chief's Remark

A student tipped me off to this story. I will only note that my recollection is that in the last three years most of the highest research awards in sciences at Tulane were won by women.

The New York Times requires a free registration. Well worth it, IMHO.

[Correction - Evan rightly pointed out, well not directly, but he pointed it out nonetheless, that Summers insists he did NOT say the above. Sorry for the confusion.]

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


This blog is primarily for me to offer some thoughts and ramblings about directing Tulane Honors Program, the world of academia, and student life. It is also for my students to offer their replies and comments. I hope that we can create a conversation where we share thoughts, links to articles, advice, suggestions, etc.

So, without any further ado, two random quotes that have the word "honor" in them:

"The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons."
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

"It is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not to deserve them."
Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

Let the conversation begin!



Christian M M Brady, D.Phil.
Director, Honors Program
Assoc. Prof., Classical & Jewish Studies
Tulane University
AIM: TargumMan