Thursday, September 05, 2013

Un-Inspirational

I wanted to expand the conversation a bit on something I posted to Facebook earlier today. Here's the post I am referring to:

You know how some people have an "inspirational" quote at the end of their emails (which is a pet peeve of mine btw)? This is the quote on one of my colleagues, "“You don't stick a knife in a [person's] back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you're making progress...." Malcolm X"

How bizarre is that?


I sat on this for a while but I found it far too disturbing. Unfortunately, I was not comfortable calling the faculty member in question as she is not someone easy to confront and it could have gotten ugly fast despite only good intentions. Instead, I went to the Provost (chief academic officer) and handed her a piece of paper with only the quote and made no reference to the specific person who used it. I asked the Provost if she were a student and received an email from a professor that signed their email with this quote at the bottom, how would you react? What would you think?

Without missing a beat, the Provost knew who the faculty member was and we then had a discussion about how to approach the situation.

In a particular context, that quote can be very powerful and relevant. I don't believe as the sign off of every email from the chair of a department as a representative of an academic institution of higher learning is the appropriate place.

This is an instructor with more than 30 years of experience in academia and a highly educated individual. I am perplexed.

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