Then and Now
Education

Evaluating University Teaching

At most colleges and universities, the granting of tenure and promotion is based on achievement in three key areas: scholarship, teaching, and service.  Measuring scholarship and service is not exactly straight-forward, but is still a relatively clear process that usually involves some combination of tallying things up and soliciting input from both external reviewers and...

Paying for College in 1803

When I pay our son’s college tuition I am given a variety of options, from full payment up-front to installment plans, but no matter how I pay I must use U.S. currency.  Which raises the question, before there was a standard U.S. currency, how did students pay their college tuition? I have been reviewing the...

Jews and Money: A New Course

Last year I co-taught a class called “Wealth: Religious Approaches” and ran a related workshop, “Jewish Approaches to Wealth and Poverty.”  I am now preparing the sources presented at the workshop for publication and will be teaching a new course based on these previous forays, called “Jews and Money.”  I had originally intended this course...

The Naming of Brown University

Brown University began its life as the College of Rhode Island.  In 1804, Nicholas Brown  gave the college $5000 in order to endow two professorships, and in gratitude the Corporation renamed the college in his honor.  This is, of course, all well-known. Nevertheless, it was a thrill to stumble upon notice of this event this...

How to Evaluate University Teaching

How should we evaluate teaching in institutions of higher education?  Despite the deep relevance of this question today, the truth is that we are only beginning to have that discussion and in many places, fitfully at best.  A couple of years ago I was charged to lead a committee to think about this question.  We...

Speaking in Baltimore

I will be giving four talks in Baltimore on April 1-2 on the holiness of the Bible.  I am grateful to the Hoffberger Foundation for Torah Study and the consortium of Baltimore area synagogues for the opportunity to do this.  The details are located on my Events page or on this flyer.

Wealth: Religious Perspectives

I am excited to be co-teaching a new course this semester with my colleague, Professor Susan Harvey.  The course description of “Wealth: Religious Perspectives,” is below: This course will survey religious approaches to the acquisition and use of wealth: How do religious thinkers understand the notion of ownership and private property? Is the fact of...

So You’re Going to College…

Over the years, I have offered scores of first-year students advice.  I have encouraged them to clarify their goals; to create long term plans; to think strategically about what they want to get out of the next four years; to explore intellectual interests outside of their comfort zones; to challenge themselves.  I have rarely encouraged...

Yale’s Betrayal

According to recent news reports, Yale University gave its former president, Richard Levin, a bonus of $8.5 million after his retirement.  Even in comparison to the stratospheric salaries and perks given to administrators in higher education, this payment stands out.  It appears to be the largest pay out ever to a university administrator, and not...