I direct the Modern Language Association, the largest association of scholars and teachers in the humanities.
My current focus is on making language and literature programs more equitable and more welcoming to students of color, first-generation college students, and Pell Grant recipients by making clearer the ways education in the humanities equips a graduate for success in the world–many different kids of success.
I used to be the Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University, in Massachusetts, where I learned about the power of public education to change lives. I taught Victorian literature and culture at Wheaton College, in Norton, Massachusetts, for twenty years, where I became convinced of the power of the humanities to make a difference in the world and in students’ lives.
Through grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Teagle Foundation, and the Social Sciences Research Council, the MLA runs the summer Institutes on Reading-Writing Pedagogy, which prepare faculty members to serve the needs of students at access-oriented institutions (AOIs), community colleges and universities that prioritize access over selectivity.
Teaching at Teaching-Intensive Institutions is an annual event in New England that helps doctoral students and postdocs in New England learn about careers at community colleges and universities with teaching responsibilities of 12 and 15 credits per semester. I started it in 2014, and folks in New England carried it on after I moved to New York. The annual fall workshop is free and open to all grad students and recent PhDs.
While I was at Bridgewater, I organized the New England Humanities Student Success group, which worked to make humanities degrees more explicit about the skills and competencies that students develop in humanities programs and to help employers and the general public to understand the value of humanities degrees. The group brings together faculty, administrators, employers, and public humanities staff from New England, and it hosted the annual Association of Departments of English Summer Seminar in June 2017 in Providence. For more detail, see these articles, in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.
I founded and directed the Summer Institute for Literary and Cultural Studies, a Mellon Foundation-funded program that prepared undergraduates from underrepresented groups for doctoral study in English, from 2008 until 2013.
I am available for consulting on creating links between research institutions and teaching institutions, on the value of humanities education, and on employer-education cooperation. Contact me at pmk02906 at verizon.net.
This site will be the place to find most of my work on higher education issues from the Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and other venues:
“The Common Denominator Among Critical Race Theory and Masks? Legislative Encroachment” GBH News, 24 September 2021.
“Why We Need a New WPA,” CNN, 13 April 2020.
“COVID-19: How Adjuncts Are Impacted,” University Business, 26 March 2020.
“Stop Asking Candidates to Pay for Job Interviews,” Inside Higher Ed, 19 April 2018.
“What I’m Seeing in Today’s Faculty Candidates,” Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae, 27 February 2017.
“Get Out of Your Department,” Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae, 19 January 2017.
“Making a Place in your New Department,” Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae, 10 October 2016.
“Know What You Don’t Know,” Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae, 29 August 2016.
“Learn from my Mistakes as a Dean,” Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae, 16 June 2016.
“Send First-Gen Students to Grad School,” InsideHigherEd.com, 4 August 2016.
“Adding Good Data to Good Stories,” InsideHigherEd.com, 22 April 2016.
“Making It Work for Working-Class Students,” InsideHigherEd.com, 23 February 2016.
“How Do We Define Student Success in the Humanities?” Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae, 17 November 2015.
“Step Outside the Major, Please,” Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae, 28 July 2015.
“Ferguson and the Liberal Arts,” Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae, 2 December 2014.
“The Great Mismatch,” InsideHigherEd.com, 15 October 2014.
“PhDs, Adjuncts, and the Teacher-Training Conundrum,” Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae, 3 July 2014.
“Once a Faculty Member,” Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae,15 February 2014 Reprinted in Higher Ed Soup to Nuts: An Exclusive Booklet on Academic Career Development, Chronicle of Higher Education Vitae 2014.
“Thinking About the Public,” InsideHigherEd.com, 3 April 2013 Reprinted in The Quest for Critical Thinking, published by InsideHigherEd.com and ETS, September 2014.
“Next Time, Fail Better,” Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 May 2012.
“Think in Reverse,” BostonMag.Com, 30 August 2011.
“The Public Service Obligation,” InsideHigherEd.com, 22 August 2011.
“Reverse-Transfer Programs Reward Students and Colleges Alike,” Chronicle of Higher Education, with Donna Ekal, 19 June 2011.