Wednesday, May 23, 2018

8 Calendar Productivity Tips for Academic Administrators

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Time management is one of the biggest challenges for academic administrators. Whether you are a chair of a department or a vice provost like myself, developing a personal calendar strategy is key to success. Here are eight productivity tips that you may find useful.

1. Do not say yes to all meeting requests. Many people want to see you throughout any given week and will ask to set up a meeting with you. I have found that anywhere from one-third to half of the issues associated with meetings could be handled with a quick phone call or a drop in discussion.

2. Create meeting agendas. We have all gone to those meetings where the organizer doesn't have a clear purpose. Don't be that person. Develop an agenda for meetings you organize. You don't have to share it, but you should know in advance what you want to get out of the meeting. If it is someone else's meeting, develop your own agenda so you know what your goals are for the meeting. Having an agenda will keep you focused and cut back on the time spent on topics outside of the meeting agenda. If you are the organizer of the meeting, use the outlook calendar tool to insert an agenda, location, and any other information that will be useful for attendees and for the goals of the meeting.

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3. Schedule time for email and develop an email strategy. There was a time a few years ago when our country reached peak email. We had not yet realized what a time sink email could be. Everyone was sending emails on everything from trivial issues to mission critical topics. Today, most of us use email in a much more focused way. However, there are certainly days when the email falls like rain in the tropics and it is hard to keep up with the flood of them in your mailbox. I schedule at least an hour a day (usually two) to triage and respond to emails. Stay away from email as much as possible outside of scheduled time including weekends. I usually read my emails over the weekend and several times during the day to check if there is anything super critical that I need to address, but usually I only respond to emails during scheduled time. While some in your circle will be frustrated that you do not answer their emails immediately, they will figure your pattern out with time.

4. Schedule every minute of the work day. This sounds a bit obsessive, but trust me, it works. I got this tip from reading Deep Work by Cal Newport. I highly recommend this book for academic administrators. Like many of you, I have things scheduled throughout the day, but on most days, there are holes in my schedule. For example, I may have a 9 am meeting with a dean that lasts 45 minutes and a 10:30 meeting with a faculty team on a research project. That means I have a 45 minute hole in the schedule without anything planned. I usually have a few of those holes each day. To deal with those holes, each morning I print out my schedule and fill in the spaces with things on my to do list. I'll also schedule time to manage email into those holes. Sometimes these holes blow up due to someone in the office having a stop-by quick meeting on something pressing. That's okay, you can just move some of the stuff around. This little trick provides your subconscious with things to do when you have some free time during the day and keeps you from getting distracted in this world that has lots of distractions.

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5. Build in writing time. One of the challenges for academic administrators is to find time to continue professional writing. Many give up their writing and focus purely on administrative activities. I enjoy writing and I decided many years ago that I would try to balance administration with my writing activities. I have always been an early morning writer, so this is relatively easy for me. I schedule time from 5am to 7am as my writing time away from my administrative duties. Each morning, I produce an average of 1000 words of formal writing on top of any informal writing I do on my blog or other projects. By the way, check out my latest book here.

6. Schedule meetings outside of your office. It is really hard to get exercise when you are in meetings all day long. Plus, we often have evening receptions or dinners associated with our jobs that keep us out of the gym. Schedule some of your meetings in other attendee's offices. This allows you to get some fresh air and get the blood pumping a bit. It also lets you learn things about the people/organization that you would not have seen by hosting the meeting. Years ago, there was a gentleman I worked with who always insisted in hosting meetings. For him, it was a power play. For me, it was exercise to go to his office and I always got a kick out of his attempt at dominance. Meetings are not about power plays. See below.

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7. Avoid toxic meetings and shut them down. We have all experienced meetings where someone is pulling a power play or where someone is emotionally out of control with anger or frustration. Avoid these types of meetings if you can. If you cannot, try to refocus the meeting on the agenda if you are able. Also, if you can, leave toxic meetings and tell the participants that you are uncomfortable with the tone of the meeting. Remember that meetings should have goals and if the goals are not being met, meetings are not worth having.

8. Add project management benchmarks to your calendar. Many of us have projects that take some time. As you develop timelines for projects, add benchmarks to your calendar to keep you on track. Make sure you build in work time for the project into your calendar. Don't let meetings fill in your time to the point that you cannot get projects completed.

I am sure that many of you have other calendar tips that you use to enhance productivity. Feel free to share them in the comments of this post.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Funding Opportunity of the Week: The Nathan Cummings Foundation

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This week's funding opportunity is from The Nathan Cummings Foundation. This organization provides millions of dollars of funding each year for a number of different projects. The areas of interest are described on their Website and pasted below:

Rooted in the Jewish tradition of social justice, the Nathan Cummings Foundation is committed to creating a more just, vibrant, sustainable and democratic society. 
We focus on finding solutions to the two most challenging problems of our time – the climate crisis and growing inequality – and aim to transform the systems and mindsets that hinder progress toward a more sustainable and equitable future for all people, particularly women and people of color. 
Climate Change: From the Pope to the Paris climate agreement, the world has declared the climate crisis one of the greatest challenges in mankind’s history. It will take all of our ingenuity and resolve to build an inclusive clean economy that lifts people out of poverty and moves everyone, especially those on the front lines, out of the devastating path we now face. We will address the climate crisis from an equity perspective and hold accountable the entrenched interests that have left our nation’s infrastructure and communities vulnerable and have stalled the energy and economic transformation we need. We’ll invest in solutions at the local, state, national and global level and join forces with diverse, enlightened leaders to chart a new course for a sustainable future.
Inequality: Millions of Americans face overwhelming obstacles shaped by social hierarchies of race, ethnicity, gender, income, education level or zip code, which restrict their opportunities.In order to address inequality, we will invest in work with strong potential to transform the influence of implicit bias and discrimination that currently exist in our public policy, systems and markets. We are particularly concerned about the effects of law enforcement and criminal justice policies and practices on the economic security of hard-working families. With our partners, we will catalyze new and effective pathways to: improve quality of life for people; level the playing fields of opportunity; and challenge ideas, policies, practices and systems that perpetuate racial and ethnic stereotypes, criminalize people in poverty and make it possible for a few to hold a vastly disproportionate share of the nation’s income, wealth and assets.
While our work is primarily concentrated in the United States, we will continue to support efforts addressing inequality in Israel, tied to our belief that the security of the State will be advanced through both an inclusive shared society and peace between Israel and all of her neighbors. 
We have a long track record of aligning our investments with our values through shareholder activism and are exploring how we expand the tools we use to dedicate more of our investment dollars for greater impact.
The Nathan Cummings Foundation invests in four focus areas that together advance our vision of a healthy planet and a healthy democracy.  
  • We will accelerate a just transition to a more inclusive clean economy, where communities on the front lines are creating solutions to the climate crisis and where prosperity for all people is not at odds with a healthy environment.
  • We are determined to advance racial and economic justice, by unlocking markets that have excluded generations from economic opportunity, reforming systems that criminalize too many and lifting up new models of democratic inclusion.
  • We will use our influence as an investor and grantmaker to increase corporate and political accountability, spurring greater transparency and more democratic systems and structures.
  • We believe in the transformative power of the arts, contemplative practice and religious traditions to change hearts and minds. We seek to move people to act for social change by amplifying the voices, creativity and culture that can build empathy, nurture compassion and shift narratives about race, class, gender and ethnicity, who has power and how we value the planet.
The foundation receives a number of proposals every year. Thus, the application process is staged. The first step is to submit a letter of inquiry. For more information, click here.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Sources of Information on the Kilauea Eruption

USGS Photo. Click for credit.
A few days ago I noted that there was some bad science reporting associated with the recent eruption of the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii.

I thought it would be useful to those of you interested in the volcano to post some links to good sources of information on the current eruption.

The USGS Kilauea Website has great maps, photos, videos, and updates.

Big Island Now and Hawaii Tribune Herald have local news from the region.

This YouTube channel is showing live images of the eruption.

The Twitter feed of Dr. Janine Krippner provides some great analysis and updates.

The Twitter feed of USGS Volcanoes gives regular updates and scientific information.

This blog gives regular updates.

There is still some really bad science news out there, so hopefully these sites will be useful to those of you interested in this fascinating eruption.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument

Today I continue my series on all 129 U.S. National Monuments. This is in follow up to my series that featured open access photos of all of the U.S. National Parks. In the coming years, I will highlight open access images all of the U.S. National Monuments in alphabetical order.

Today's featured monument is Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio. This is not one of the monuments that was under review for delisting as per executive order by the president. Following the photos is a list of U.S. National Monuments previously featured on this blog.

This national monument is one of the newest national monuments.

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President Obama signing the document to create the national monument. Click for photo credit.
Admiralty Island National Monument
African Burial Ground National Monument
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Agua Fria National Monument
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument
Aniakchak National Monument
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Bandelier National Monument
Basin and Range National Monument
Bears Ears National Monument
Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument
Booker T. Washington National Monument
Browns Canyon National Monument
Buck Island Reef National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument
California Coastal National Monument
Canyon de Chelly National Monument

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

One Giant Leap: Apollo 11 @50 Conference

Hofstra University recently announced the conference:  Apollo 11@50:  One Giant Leap. The Conference will be held on April 2nd and 3rd, 2019.

I remember July 20, 1969 quite vividly. It was a hot summer night in small town Wisconsin. The windows and doors or our house were open to try to capture a breeze. I was 7 years old and huddled around our large console television set with my older brothers and sisters and my parents. My father had a tripod out with a camera to take pictures of what was happening live on TV. We were landing on the moon.

I think many folks around my age or older have similar memories. It was a watershed moment in world history and it had an important impact on society.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, Hofstra University, in partnership with the Cradle of Aviation Museum, is organizing the conference Apollo 11@50:  One Giant Leap.

Anyone interested attending or in organizing a session or submitting papers can find information about the event here. To capture the range of impacts that the Apollo 11 mission had on society, the conference is accepting papers from a number of disciplines. From the announcement:

To explore the wide-ranging impacts of the moon landing, we encourage submissions from across the arts, sciences, humanities, communication, and business that incorporate dimensions of history, philosophy, political science, journalism, art, design, film, television, media studies, cultural studies, literature, women’s studies, African-American studies, drama, music, engineering, project management, and planetary science. Presentations should be no more than 20 minutes in length. Pre-constituted thematic panels of three to four presenters will also be considered.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Bad Science Reporting on the Recent Kilauea Eruptions

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Like many of you out there, I have been following the news on the recent Kilauea eruption with great interest. As a geologist, I am always fascinated when these things occur and I follow the news closely. There has been some great science reporting about the volcanic eruption and associated earthquakes, but there have been some real low spots as well. Let me point out just one.

Check out this Tweet from the Associated Press:

The eruption of a Hawaii volcano in the Pacific "Ring of Fire" has experts warily eyeing volcanic peaks on America's West Coast.

The tweet linked to an article titled: Hawaii Volcano Raises Concerns of Eruptions Along West Coast.

First of all, let me address the Tweet. Hawaii is not on the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire is defined by plate boundaries which more or less overlap with the edges of the Pacific Ocean. This Ring of Fire is associated with an abundance of earthquake and volcanic activity. Places like Japan, the Aleutian Islands, the Andes, and the San Andreas Fault are part of the Ring of Fire. Hawaii is not even close to the Ring of Fire and it is not associated with a plate boundary. Instead, it is what some call a Hot Spot where heat from the mantle provides the energy behind the eruptions and earthquakes. Some of the readers of this blog may be familiar with another Hot Spot at Yellowstone. So this incorrect placement of Hawaii is strike one of the article and Tweet. Kilauea has nothing to do with west coast volcanoes.

Strike two of the article and Tweet is that it implies and explicitly states that experts are concerned about west coast volcanoes now that Kilauea is erupting. This is false. In fact, the article clearly states: "No eruption seems imminent, experts say.The Cascades Volcano Observatory monitors volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest and posts weekly status reports. All currently register “normal.”" So, if everything is normal, why does the article note that experts are warily eyeing volcanic peaks or raising concerns all of a sudden? This is the kind of hazard hyperbole that makes science seem less credible.

The final strike for me is that the article implies that Kilauea just started to erupt. In fact, it has been erupting for years. Certainly, the eruption is entering a new phase with the lava erupting from crevasses along a rift zone, but it is incorrect to imply that all of a sudden Kilauea came to life. When implying that it all of a sudden came to life, it gives credence to doomsday scenariolists who believe that the eruptions are a new sign of the end of times. A quick search in the gutters of Twitter will show that the article helps to perpetuate the idea that something new and unique is happening in Hawaii. Nothing could be further from the truth.

This is just one example of problematic reporting. There are plenty of other examples of bad science reporting with this event. Certainly, I don't want to diminish the important information that many of the articles, including some of the bad ones, share. However, I urge reporters to avoid hyperbole and subtle inaccuracies that can creep into reporting a dramatic story like the current eruptions at Kilauea.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Talanoa Dialogue on Climate Change

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One of the key events to occur after the Paris Climate Accord is the Talanoa Dialogue. The term Talanoa is a word from Fiji and the broader Pacific to refer to an open dialogue that is facilitated by story telling. In other words, it is an opportunity for individuals and organizations to share stories to gain common understanding of the nuances of an issue. The Talanoa Dialogue, is thus an opportunity for stakeholders from around the world to come together to discuss their perspectives on climate change. There are three main questions being asked in the dialogue:
  • Where are we?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • How do we get there?
The Talanoa Dialogue process allows individuals and groups to submit reports with their responses to these questions. The portal where one could upload responses kicked off in January. In addition, an international meeting was just held in Bonn where there was considerable discussion on the questions. A report will be prepared in several months to summarize the input. Although the meeting was just held, one can still submit responses. Check out the Website of the Dialogue here for more information. You could organize your community, school, business, or other organization to submit responses to questions. The Website provides some templates that you could use. The UN is collecting responses through October 29th, so it could be a nice back to school activity for students and those of you in the teaching profession.

The use of of the Talanoa Dialogues in a Pacific Island context is quite important. Small Island States like Fiji are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and are experiencing disproportionate impacts of climate change compared to those nations which produce the most anthropogenic impacts.

Everyone can provide input into the Talanoa Dialogues. Why not add your voice and the voice of your community? A Webinar as to how to engage with the process is below.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Funding Opportunity of the Week: Sustainable Agricultural Systems

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This week's funding opportunity of the week is from the United States Department of Agriculture and focuses on sustainable agricultural systems. Here is a link to the request for proposals. A description of the opportunity is below.

Applications to the FY 2018 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Sustainable Agricultural Systems (SAS) Request for Applications (RFA) must focus on approaches that promote transformational changes in the U.S. food and agriculture system within the next 25 years. NIFA seeks creative and visionary applications that take a systems approach, and that will significantly improve the supply of abundant, affordable, safe, nutritious, and accessible food, while providing sustainable opportunities for expansion of the bioeconomy through novel animal, crop, and forest products and supporting technologies. These approaches must demonstrate current and future social, behavioral, economic, health, and environmental impacts. Additionally, the outcomes of the work being proposed must result in societal benefits, including promotion of rural prosperity and enhancement of quality of life for those involved in food and agricultural value chains from production to utilization and consumption. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

NASA's Carbon Monitoring System Cut by Administration

Photo by Bob Brinkmann.
NASA has done quite a bit of work in the last decade or two in monitoring earth systems via satellites and other tools. A trove of information useful for understanding how our planet works was created by NASA scientists using data generated through a number of climate change research initiatives. Science magazine is reporting that NASA cut the Carbon Monitoring System at the direction of the Executive Branch of the U.S. Government. What this means is that it will be more difficult to get accurate information about global carbon and methane emissions around the planet and there will be less research conducted on carbon and methane that would be useful to combat the challenges associated with global climate change.

As the article notes, much of the work will likely continue, but by other nations, particularly those in the European Union.  China has been very active in this type of research as well. However, the NASA program had a distinct focus on understanding carbon cycles and associated issues in the U.S. with a goal of helping to understand how to reduce emissions or store carbon to benefit U.S. society. Unfortunately, as I have pointed out in this blog before, the U.S. is losing its leadership role in climate change science and policy as a result of the erratic changes in U.S. policy at the executive level from administration to administration.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Top 24 Hofstra Facts and Legends

Over the years, I have twice posted a similar post to this one that lists a number of Hofstra facts and legends. It is tulip season here at Hofstra University, one of the most beautiful times of the semester, so it makes sense to revise and expand the list as we approach graduation. Of course, I like to be a little impish, so some of the facts and legends are not true. So, consider this a true false quiz. The answers to the quiz are in the comments.

1.  Mrs. Hofstra left part of her fortune to her cats.

2.  The New York Jets once had offices in the Medical School.

3.  Mr. Hofstra avoided going down in the Titanic by choosing to go to Canada on a business trip.

4.  Charles Lindbergh took off to Paris on his famous Atlantic crossing from airstrips that now are parking lots on the residential side of campus.

5.  There is a tulip planted for every student on campus in the campus arboretum.

6.  The famous planner Robert Moses resigned from the Board of Trustees when the university decided to build dormitories.

7.  Francis Ford Coppola was the first student to direct a major theater production on the Hofstra campus.

8.  Calkins Hall was once the gym.

9. Each year, a faculty member is selected to wear Mr. Hofstra's special traveling cap that he wore on train trips to California to inspect his western properties.

10.  The first official team sport at Hofstra was polo, which was first played on campus polo grounds (now the quad) in 1936.

11.  A secret tunnel connects the north and south side of campus under Hempstead Turnpike. 

12.  Hofstra was once part of NYU.

13. Hofstra's arboretum is used as a cemetery for faculty.

14. The Hofstra Alma Mater, Blue and Gold, was written by an American Idol contestant.

15. All the the past Presidents of Hofstra share the same middle name, William, which is the same name as Mr. Hofstra and the same name as the male mascot of Hofstra University.

16. The original team name of Hofstra's male sports teams was the Flying Dutchmen.

17. One of Hofstra's dorm towers is built around a smokestack.

18. Roosevelt Hall originally was located at Sagamore Hill, the home of Teddy Roosevelt near Oyster Bay, Long Island, and was moved to campus in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial. It once housed President Roosevelt's extensive animal trophies, guns, and uniform collection.

19. Martin Luther King was granted an honorary degree from Hofstra in 1965.

20. Before an exam, it is considered good luck to rub the head of the statue of the professor reading in the Calkins Quad.

21. Hofstra's extensive tulip grounds are used by bulb developers to try out new varieties. Last year, one grower developed a genetically modified tulip that pulls helium from the atmosphere. The bulbs eventually pull from the ground once they start blooming and float about waist high.

22. Hofstra University is only one of three universities in the New York region to have a law school, medical school, and an engineering school.

23. A military airplane crashed into Barnard Hall in the early days of the university when Roosevelt Field, now the north side of campus, was active.

24. Hofstra is home to over 11,000 students making it the largest university on Long Island.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Funding Opportunity of the Week

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This week's funding opportunity comes from the National Science Foundation and focuses on innovation in computer science, engineering, and information science. Check out the link here.

From the NSF Website:

The far-reaching impact and rate of innovation in the computer and information science and engineering fields has been remarkable, generating economic prosperity and enhancing the quality of life for people throughout the world.
The Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) has established the Expeditions in Computing (Expeditions) program to provide the CISE research and education community with the opportunity to pursue ambitious, fundamental research agendas that promise to define the future of computing and information.
In planning Expeditions projects, investigators are encouraged to come together within or across departments or institutions to combine their creative talents in the identification of compelling, transformative research agendas that promise disruptive innovations in computer and information science and engineering for many years to come.
Funded at levels up to $2,000,000 per year for five years, Expeditions projects represent some of the largest single investments currently made by the CISE directorate. Together with the Science and Technology Centers that CISE supports, Expeditions projects form the centerpiece of the directorate's center-scale award portfolio. With awards funded at levels that promote the formation of large research teams, CISE recognizes that concurrent research advances in multiple fields or sub-fields are often necessary to stimulate deep and enduring outcomes. The awards made in this program will complement research areas supported by other CISE programs, which target particular computer and information science and engineering fields.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide Highest Ever Recorded

NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory is reporting that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have reached over 411 parts per million. This is the highest level seen in the atmosphere for 800,000 years. Many scientists believed that the red line for serious climate change was 400 parts per million. Thus, the increase to 411 parts per million suggests that we may see a serious acceleration of problems. Some argue we are in the midst of an acceleration given the regular reports of climate irregularity.

Much of the world rallied to try to address climate change through the Paris Climate Accord. However, many have argued that it didn't go far enough. The U.S. has withdrawn from the accord and many climate change deniers are in important positions in the government (EPA, NASA for example). Plus many states have banned the term climate change in state government and federal agencies have also removed information from climate change on their sites. The governments we elect are working against the interests of its citizens on this issue.

I still hold out hope that there will be a big science solution to climate change. However, the data show that we need to move quickly.