Friday Varia and Quick Hits

Just a gaggle of quick hits for your enjoyment:

  • News came this week that John Mering has passed away.  Mering taught in the Department of History from 1968-1970.  He received his Ph.D. at the University of Missouri which had strong ties to UND.  A UND History alumnus served as Missouri’s president from 1955-1963 and had already produced Louis Geiger, one of the most important faculty members in the Department of History and at the University in the postwar period.  Mering taught 19th century U.S. history at UND before moving on to the University of Arizona in 1969.  He was replaced by Thomas Howard, an IU graduate who would serve on UND’s faculty for many years.
  • Last month the Princeton Review released its various lists.  The University of North Dakota appeared on two of the better known; it ranked 18th on the list of the top party schools and 5th on the list of schools where students study the least.  While on the surface, these are not particularly promising areas to receive high marks.  But when we look at our peer institutions on this list, it is really quite striking.  First, the top 20 party schools list is made up 3 types of institutions: major state universities (Penn State (1), Florida (2), Georgia (4), West Virginia (6), Texas (7), Wisconsin (8)).  In any other context many of these schools would be good schools to find as one’s peers.  These schools have powerful Division 1 sports traditions, stand as the “flagship universities in their respective states, have good academics and graduate programs, have Carnegie Basic Classificiation of Research University/Very High Research (UND, West Virginia (6), Ohio University (5)and UCSB (10) have basic classifications of Research University/High Research)  , and have large and vibrant student bodies.  In fact, the top 10 party schools are all at least 50% larger than UND.  The second group of schools are the three liberal arts colleges: Union College (NY), DePauw University (IN), Sewanee: The University of the South (TN).  These are all competitive and well-established liberal arts colleges with student bodies under 2,500.  Again, if this were any other list, it would be an honor to rank among these school.  Some of the same observations can be applied to the list of schools where students study the least.  To my mind, the real issue is not whether our students study enough (many clearly study plenty) or whether they party enough, but how did it happen that UND ranked in these categories?  Princeton review bases their rankings on a survey conducted through their website by students (as well as information from the university administration).  So, it’s not just that someone thinks UND is a party school, but someone cared enough to participate in a survey that produced these rankings.  The student willingness to participate in a survey must account for something and it seems like this energy could be parsed and analyzes in a positive way.  After all, it’s not every day that UND ranks among the school on this list in anything.
  • My parents are in town and we visited Chuck Kimmerle’s fantastic exhibit at the North Dakota Museum of Art called “An Unapologetic Landscape.”  It was fantastic!  Kimmerle, who is also the University photographer, was able to capture both the clear, sharp, and vivid qualities of North Dakota light as well as the subtle and austere character of the North Dakota countryside.  It’s a must see for anyone interested in landscapes.
  • The fourth test in the Ashes started this morning and before I got out of bed, England was 42/3.  By the time I was done this post, England was 72/6 at lunch.  A good start for Australia.
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