Category Archives: Faculty

On systems and breakdowns

David Allen’s Getting Things Done is no small part of what got me through my dissertation, and I’ve been using it ever since. I was introduced to the system and philosophy by the postdoc I shared my office with. (A.J. Brush, who has continued to get things done—if you are reading this, thanks again!)

However, I won’t say I apply it perfectly. I experience breakdowns pretty regularly, which means reflecting on my tools or routines to figure out what to change to make it work again. Continue reading

Choose two out of three

Academic labor is typically framed as falling into three categories: teaching, scholarship, and service. There is also a common saying about tradeoffs in computer systems research: “X,Y,Z, choose two out of three.” Lately, I’m finding that in any given week I can be caught up on work for the CS program, or I can be caught up on grading, but not both. It’s a little harder to define being caught up on scholarship—meeting deadlines perhaps? In any case, if I meet a deadline for scholarship, I’m surely not caught up on everything else. Continue reading

Report: Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing

Last week I traveled to Austin, Texas with seven students for the Richard Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. My job was to moderate a panel on teaching-oriented faculty careers—my fifth such panel, but the first at Tapia. CS program funding allowed me to bring along several students. To maximize impact, I recruited from amongst this fall’s class mentors and the leadership of the CS@W student club. Students are expected to share or apply what they learn on campus.


Whitman students and faculty at the Tapia Celebration of Diversity in Computing. You can tell we are in Texas by the steer made of license plates on the wall behind us.

I’ll start out with a diary of my experience, and conclude with my students’ reflections on their experiences. Continue reading

Academic honesty guidelines

Students often have difficulty understanding how principles of academic honesty applies to problems in computer science, and especially programming problems. In my nine years at Grinnell, I had all too many discussions with my colleagues about interpreting evidence of academic dishonesty.

While core values and principles are held in common, institutional policies and procedures differ. This is one of the things that made last year a lonely year for me professionally. I sorely missed having colleagues to consult with about potential academic honesty cases, colleagues familiar with institutional policies and the special problems of academic honesty in computer science.

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I’ve got a POSSE

When Grinnell College announced that its relationship with the Posse Foundation would end, many folks at Whitman asked me what I thought or if I had any inside information. This post is not about that Posse.

Rather, it’s about my experiences with the Professor’s Open Source Software Experience (POSSE), an NSF-funded project that engages faculty from across the US in developing and deploying learning activities that engage computing students with humanitarian free and open source software (HFOSS).

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