The Pedant • November 2013

 

• Editor's Note


• New Associate Dean


• Hub Club


• CGU Student Research Conference


• Accreditation Situation


• The X-Files: Confessions from Dissertation Bootcamp


• La Flâneuse: the Claremont Wanderer





Editor's Note

Transdisciplinarity

In September, I asked a friend if she happened to read the story about transdisciplinarity in that month’s issue of the Pedant. After a moment of fumbling for an excuse, she admitted that she couldn’t stand reading any more about such a tired, overplayed topic. This got me to thinking: Sure, the story contained new information about the continued evolution of T-studies at CGU, but was it really old news?

Transdisciplinarity, like accreditation, the student council, and the various resources and centers around campus, are the
lifeblood of what makes CGU CGU. Speaking about CGU without those things would be like talking about Paris without the Eiffel Tower, or McDonald’s without the cheeseburgers (for more on that, turn to page nine). And while these topics may start to feel redundant, our continued coverage of them at least means that they’re changing, growing, and more fully embodying their missions, ideals, and goals.

This issue of the Pedant looks at these core aspects of what makes us CGU and how, even when faced with confusion and maybe even a loss of direction, we continue—from the students up to the trustees—to aim for a more perfect university

Cheers,

Rachel Tie
Editor, the Pedant

pedant@cgu.edu

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New Associate Dean

Lisa Flores-GriffithIn the spirit of student centeredness, one of the goals that President Freund set with her induction in 2011, a new dean is in town.  And she’s putting student success at the forefront of the campus.

Lisa Flores Griffith—formerly the administrative director of the School of Arts and Humanities—is spearheading the brand new Student Success Center (SSC) as associate dean of students.

The SCC is a newly designed umbrella program that will oversee Career Management, the Writing Center, the Preparing Future Faculty program, the Office of Student Life and Diversity, and Disability Services. The ultimate goal of bringing them together is to streamline student services under a single cohesive body.

Instead of working independently, as each program has in the past, they will now be working collaboratively. Presently, this means clearly defining the mission of the center. Each director of the aforementioned departments is hard at work and meeting regularly to figure out how to best serve their number-one client. That’s you.

“By building a bridge to access these services, we invite students as active partners to participate and take advantage of these opportunities for self-assessment that foster excellence,” Flores Griffith said.

Even better, the SSC has a house at 131 E. Tenth Street (formerly the Humanities Resource Center) that will be open to all students to attend workshops, study, or just hang out. Creating this new space for students is one of Flores Griffith’s biggest goals for this year. The SSC is slated to open in January 2014.

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Hub Club Revives Transdisciplinarity

Hub ClubIn the August issue of the Pedant we wrote about the transition phase transdisciplinary studies (T-studies) is undergoing at CGU. Now, it seems like something is happening, but it’s coming from the students themselves.

While serving on the Graduate Student Council, School of Educational Studies doctoral student Krystal Miguel kept hearing students voice concerns about the T-studies program; and when those concerns reached a fever pitch at the spring 2013 T-studies focus group, she decided to do something about it (for more on that, see “Accreditation Situation,” page four).

“We created the Hub Club because there was a disconnect between the transdisciplinary mission and its implementation [at CGU] into a vibrant community of scholars,” said Miguel.

With support from the graduate student council and university administration, the Hub Club secured the old transdisciplinary house as a transdisciplinary methods lab and meeting space. Members are currently working as a group on a paper that address topics in transdisciplinarity such as shared responsibility, shared governance, and transdisciplinary community building.

“I entered CGU as an interdisciplinary student,” said Miguel. “My undergraduate degree is interdisciplinary blending rhetoric, sociology, anthropology, and ethnic studies to address diversity in cultural institutions. I have never believed one discipline could hold all the answers so I diversified. I am a divergent thinker and transdisciplinary work is especially meaningful to the way my mind works.”

To get involved and receive regular communications, join the transdisciplinary community group on your student portal. Currently, meetings are only open to executive board members. However, members and interested students are welcome to drop by the T-house (which is staffed by Hub members) as well as rent out space for meetings and study groups. Currently, 47 students representing every school at CGU are members.

The club’s first major event will be a panel discussion comprised of scholars in the fields of team science and transdisciplinary research on November 18. For more information, e-mail tndy@cgu.edu.


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CGU Student Research Conference


You have an idea. You may even have a paper written. You also have stage fright.

One of the biggest components of being an academic is participation in conferences (along with publishing, service, and teaching). But for those for whom public speaking is akin to torture, a twenty-minute presentation may as well be twenty minutes of water boarding.

Yet the fact remains that it is an essential part of being a scholar, and one that is better gotten over now than later (or never). CGU’s fifteenth-annual student research conference is a great way to get your feet (not face) wet in the conference-giving word without the added burden of doing so in front of the big wigs of your field.

This year’s conference will take place on Friday, January 24, 2014 at CGU. The theme, “embracing connections in times of global stress” is broad enough to encompass nearly any topic—especially that one you’ve been thinking about. But the theme was also selected because of its import to CGU right now.

“CGU’s recent climate report and WASC (the association that accredits institutions of higher education) feedback let us know that we could be more supportive [of students] in more ways,” said Aracely Torres, Minority Mentor Program (MMP) director. “We want to establish community and create connections based on similar desires, finding areas that allow us to relate to one another.”

Along with presenting papers, the conference also welcomes art and poster exhibits, artist talks, and panel- and discussion-group proposals. You may also volunteer by becoming a committee member and assisting the day of the conference.

Proposals should consist of a 250-word abstract and are due online at http://tinyurl.com/mmpconf2014 by midnight December 2, 2013. Further questions should be directed to aracely.torres@cgu.edu.

Student Research Conference

 

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Accreditation Situation


WASC. Accreditation. Realignment. Transdisciplinarity.

These are buzzwords that have been—well, buzzing—around campus for the past three years. And as it turns out, they’re all related.

WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges)—that is, the institution that validates our degrees—last approved CGU in June of 2002 with a ten-year accreditation, the longest amount of time any school can go without a revisit. Basically, we got an A+ with WASC.

To continue the academic analogy, think about this like a research paper.

The WASC visits are divided into three parts. The first is the institutional proposal, which functions like an abstract or paper proposal, and it outlines what CGU is planning to do. In the 2010 review, the WASC team suggested that our decentralized administration lacked coherence between university-wide goals and individual schools and that our emphasis on transdisciplinary studies was vague. So, our goals since then have been to improve these things.

To meet these challenges, CGU underwent realignment in order to condense the nine schools into five. CGU has had a transdisciplinary studies program in place since 2005. WASC recommended a thorough program review to determine what was working well, take a look at what others are doing outside of CGU, and identify what to improve.

Thus, in CGU’s abstract (institutional proposal), we outlined our future plans to continue to better the university and move in a positive and successful direction. This is CGU’s chance to be self-critical and identify areas of improvement before WASC returns in March. Our proposal included continuing to improve our Transdisciplinary Studies Program and a focus on “research that matters,” that is, contributing to the world around us. (Does that ubiquitous T-shirt “I am in the world to change the world” ring a bell?)

Great. We’re self-assessing, improving, working to make ourselves better. We have our abstract.

Then, in the spring of 2012, the WASC team returned for part two of the process (kind of like giving a first draft to your adviser). When WASC arrived, they conducted a Capacity and Preparatory Review. You can think about this as sort of a lit review or an annotated bibliography, with perhaps the beginnings of an analysis.

The 30-page report (which your ever-assiduous Pedant sifted through with a fine-toothed comb, so you didn’t have to) has six commendations (thumbs up!) and six recommendations (areas of improvement).

Bad news first:

Most of the recommendations center around identifying “measurable outcomes” for CGU’s work, phrased like “redouble [CGU’s] current efforts to develop an academic plan that connects institutional goals, programmatic goals, course goals, and student learning outcomes.” That means that we need to continue to evaluate ourselves in quantitative ways (that means numbers). The more interesting recommendations include increasing diversity for faculty, staff, and students, re-envisioning the Transdisciplinary Studies Program as part of realignment, and—in their words—”[reexamining the] research culture, most particularly the flow of research-related funds.” WASC wants us to have more funding for research. Awesome, no?

Now for the good news. The WASC team loves realignment. They also mentioned the “striking culture of inclusion that permeates the university. . . [and that] the passionate embrace of CGU and its values by so many members of the community is inspiring.”

Hooray! We’re great. But there is still work to be done.

The third part of the process—the Educational Effectiveness Review—was postponed for a semester. Originally slated to take place this fall, the WASC team recommended, in order to “provide the institution with time to build upon its progress to date,” that we push it back to spring 2014. This is sort of like your professor telling you that your paper isn’t finished yet. You’ve done great work on the proposal and the research, but it will take more time to see the results of your experiment. Not a bad thing. You know what they say about art (or research papers): they are never finished, only abandoned.

Now that you’ve written your abstract, done your research, and run it by your professor, it’s time for the final polishing. That’s what CGU is doing now.

A school-wide e-mail went out in early October from President Freund that outlined what we can expect in the coming weeks. It boils down to this: your participation matters.

Alana Olschwang, accreditation liaison officer and guru for all things WASC, noted that “It’s important for students to realize that filling out a survey, participating in town halls—this is part of a student responsibility as a community member and in making the university a better place. On the flip side, if things are not going well or there is an idea for improvement, it’s also a shared responsibility—the student should discuss these things with their program coordinator, faculty, chair, dean, or central administration to work toward a resolution.”

WASC tends to carry a certain weight with it. But actually, it’s a good thing. Not only does it keep CGU accountable, it also encourages us to improve.

“The expertise provided by the accrediting team that will visit in March will serve as a consultation for CGU to get feedback on how best to allocate time, energy, and resources in the future. How well are we doing in comparison to others? What are others doing that we can learn from?” Olschwang said.

Keep an eye out for more information as the semester comes to a close about how you can get involved with the accreditation process. For more information, visit www.cgu.edu/wasc

 

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The X-Files: Confessions from Dissertation Bootcamp

Confessions from Dissertation Bootcamp

Just call me “Student X.”

By the time I finally attended a dissertation boot camp, I had been ABD for seven months and had only written the shadow of a hint of my proposal. Really, it was more like notes.

I had convinced myself that not working was part of working; like how Google employees are encouraged to go out on the town to get their creative juices flowing.

But after several months of convincing myself that having “basically written it, just in my head” was a viable approach to writing a 200-page original manuscript, and with another semester—nay, school year—just weeks away, I knew the time had come to begin to climb the dissertation mountain, to ascend—as it were—to doctoral candidacy.

Other dissertators may know the feeling: After studying alone for an entire year and passing your qualifying exams, you feel accomplished, qualified: all-but-dissertated. But as the weeks and months roll on the severity of your situation gradually becomes clear: That year of solitude, torture, intensity, and agony was the easy part. If studying for exams is like standing outside a conference room in which the greats in your field are having a conversation, memorizing that conversation, and then reporting it back to your exam committee, the dissertation is like having to walk into that room—you with all of your zero years of professional experience in the field—and tell them that you’re the next best thing.

So really, writing a dissertation is as much a work-ethic problem as it is an emotional one. “Who, pray tell, are you, to come into our field and tell us what’s what?” you may imagine the academic community sneering at you. And to a certain extent, you’re right. Academia is a club which requires six or more years of skull and bones-style hazing, only harder, because instead of just making you drink a case of beer without your shirt on while dangling over a fire by your ankles (which, given the right attitude, could be fun), you are forced to undergo intense and unrelenting intellectual scrutiny while your 20s—and any dreams of financial security—pass you by.

Like the addict, who wakes up one morning penniless, shirtless, and living in a two-door 1980s Civic, I awoke one morning in late summer to the realization that I, too, had hit rock bottom. After spending several nights in a row tearfully Googling “should I leave my doctoral program?” and “what to do with an English MA,” I knew that something had to give.

So I signed up for dissertation boot camp. Offered by the CGU writing center, boot camp comes in two forms: A monthly, weekend-long version, and an annual weeklong version, usually held in June.

And I was weary.

I pictured drill-sergeant style oversight on my writing progress, forced writing activities, and touchy-feely group sessions. But the name “boot camp” is something of a misnomer, for what really transpired over the two days was an incredibly calm, supportive work session unencumbered by anyone else’s agenda or goals. Also: coffee.

So for two days, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. I worked in 90-minute blocks with 30-minute breaks. Yes, it was tiring, but it was also incalculably rewarding. Not only did I remember that I could indeed write, but I learned some skills and methods for maximizing my writing. Perhaps the most poignant of these was the knowledge that I don’t need vast swathes of time to work on my dissertation (a self-defeating assumption, for when does anyone actually have eight hours to spare?): an hour here and an hour there is all it really takes.

What’s more: We all know that person in our program, the one who always seems on the ball, appears deeply enmeshed in and passionate about their project, and couldn’t possibly struggle with the self doubt that plagues you. Well they’re not, and they do. And that’s nice. Not for reasons of schadenfreude (ok, maybe partly for reasons of schadenfreude), but because it forces you to realize that this isn’t easy for anyone.

Listen. The room may either be too hot or too cold. You will get bored, you will get tired. There will most likely be a mouth breather or a “sniffler” in close proximity. You will listen to complete strangers moan. But we didn’t sign up for the academic life because it was easy or comfortable. We signed up because there was something we had to know, something we had to say. Finishing your dissertation allows you into the conference of knowing and saying, to sit at the table with the very people who once kept you out and clink glasses in sinister delight while even newer recruits walk over coals for your enjoyment.

Something happens at boot camp—at least it did for me—because that monthly cloistering in silent spaces with vegan meals and other people’s mouth noises allowed me to proudly say that I have now submitted my proposal and am well on my way to being “Dr. X.”

 

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La Flâneuse


La Flaneuseby Sharone Williams — writer, editor, loafer, PhD candidate in English
Flâneuse, French: 1) a city wanderer; 2) one who strolls about aimlessly; 3) a shopper with no intent to buy; an intellectual parasite.

As part of the Pedant’s mission to enhance student life, La Flâneuse features goings-on about town outside of the moated ivory tower that is CGU. This month: The Great Cheeseburger Challenge.

No one really knows who invented the cheeseburger. It’s strange when you think about it. I mean, if I’d been around, I would have sent up fireworks and rounded up the nearest marching band for a parade that would still be going today. But I wasn’t, and somehow this cultural milestone passed largely unmarked.

It must have taken some kind of genius. We just don’t really know who that genius was. What we do know is that at some point people started making patties out of ground meat. One theory traces the geneaology of the meat patty from eleventh-century Mongolia to Russia to Hamburg, Germany (hence the word hamburger, which if you think about it is really some clever wordplay). Things really picked up steam in the late nineteenth-century United States when people started slapping these patties between two pieces of bread. Literally everyone in the universe tried to take credit for this innovation.  It was only one small step from there to the invention of the hamburger bun in 1916 (Walter Anderson of White Castle fame claims this one), and the evolution of this fine species of hot sandwich reached its peak with the addition of cheese some time in the 1920s. In the decades since, thanks to McDonald’s and a zillion roadside restaurants and backyard cookouts and [some other things—maybe we should ask the Freakonomics people?], the cheeseburger has become an American institution. Some would call it the most perfect, marvelous, and supremely delectable food ever created. Is that an exaggeration? Probably not.

Like the hamburger, the cheeseburger has numerous supposed progenitors from all around the country, but the earliest claims come from our neck of the woods: Lionel Sternberger’s Rite Spot in Pasadena and O’Dell’s on Figueroa (both, sadly, defunct). And since your faithful flâneuse is all about celebrating local life in all its glory, it only seemed right that I spend some time exploring what Claremont brings to the cheeseburger scene. 

Out of my deep devotion to you, dear reader, over the last few weeks I’ve eaten cheeseburgers at five restaurants within about five minutes of campus, and I’m going to give you the straight facts about all of them (in the order in which they were eaten).


BurgersThe Back Abbey
128 N. Oberlin Ave., Claremont
Menu selections: The Back Abbey and the grilled vegetable burger

The Back Abbey burger is pretty famous as cheeseburgers go. It’s been named one of the best in LA and the Inland Empire, and everybody on Yelp loves it, except for the people who are too cool to like things everyone else likes—and it’s easy to see why people say so. It’s a “special dry-age grind” beef patty (you can sub in a turkey patty for no extra cost) served with gouda, mustard aioli, bacon from some fancy bacon ranch (not an expert), and micro greens. It comes on a brioche bun that’s light and soft. All of these things add up to one killer cheeseburger, strongly savory but with a nice mixture of flavors and textures: crispy bacon, the fresh, tiny crunch of the micro greens, the tang of the aioli, a beautiful crust on the patty (medium rare!), combined with a bun and cheese that seem to melt together. This is a cheeseburger I think about in a longing kind of way sometimes. If you haven’t tried this, put it at the top of your list.

Because we know the world isn’t made up solely of meat lovers, I also tried the grilled vegetable burger, which is not so much a burger as it is a stack of layered grilled vegetables on a bun. You get portobello mushroom, zucchini, red peppers, and eggplant, along with feta and an herb sauce, also served on brioche. I have to say, I alternated bites between this and the Back Abbey burger, and I would have been hard pressed to say which I liked better. The vegetables were beautifully seasoned with parmesan, garlic, and parsley, and the feta added a nice sharpness. There were a lot of exclamation points in my notes.

The Buffalo Inn
1814 W. Foothill Blvd., Upland
Menu selection: Buffalo burger

The Buffalo Inn is a low-key place with a huge outdoor patio where they often have live music and dancing. The vibe is wood chips and biker chicks and Eagles cover bands on Sunday afternoons. One of the house specialties is the buffalo burger, which I naturally had to try. I mean, that is basically an American icon made from an American icon, and I am really into investing my foods with complicated symbolism these days (life after the dissertation, amirite?)

So. The first thing to say about it is that it’s enormous, a giant slab of ground buffalo served on a sourdough bun along with tomato, mayonnaise, cheddar cheese, and chopped onions, with fresh potato chips on the side. I’d never had buffalo before and was surprised by how dark it was, but as far as flavor, it wasn’t much different from your typical ground beef. Maybe that’s my philistine taste buds talking? It was alright, but I mean, I’m not stampeding up to Foothill for another one. (Get it? Stampede? Heh. Oh, buffalo, we hardly knew ye.)

Hagelbarger’s
Come on, you know where Hagelbarger’s is.
Menu selection: bacon cheeseburger

So we all know about Hagelbarger’s. They do straightforward, uncomplicated, short-order type food. Nothing fancy about it. I say this with great affection, because the people there work hard to feed us and keep us happy, and we grad students are not always known for being easygoing and neurosis-free.

Many are the quesadillas I have happily consumed on breaks between classes during my time at CGU. If you have a similar go-to order, you know that when you eat from Hagelbarger’s, you’ll get solid food on the greasy side with no surprises. The bacon cheeseburger is no exception. It comes with plentiful amounts of your basic cheeseburger toppings: greenleaf lettuce, two kinds of American cheese, onion (LOTS of onion—so much that I think I’d opt out next time). This cheeseburger’s strength was not construction. With all the vegetables, it was a little bit hard to wrangle. However, what it lacked in ease of handling it more than made up for in size. Intrepid Editor Rachel and I could easily have split this*, and I am no bird-like eater. In terms of taste, this cheeseburger’s middle of the road, standard in every way. The bottom line: if you’re on campus with a few minutes to spare between classes and meetings and you’re craving a cheeseburger, you can satisfy that craving here. Extra napkins may be required.

Rounds
885 S. Indian Hill Blvd., Claremont
Menu selection: The Hawaiian

Rounds started as a food truck in LA and now has a few permanent locations, one of which is just south of I-10 on Indian Hill. They have a bunch of different burgers on the menu, but you can also create your own using their handy order form (similar to The Counter or Slater’s). Patty options include beef, chicken, turkey, and veggie.  I went for the Hawaiian, which comes with teriyaki, grilled pineapple, and jack cheese served on a fresh bun that’s grilled and caramelized a bit at the edges.  Do I have to tell you that it was delicious? It was. The teriyaki sauce was a great mix of sweet and salty and, while I would have preferred fresh pineapple rather than canned, this is a minor quibble. I added fresh jalapeños because they’re my jam, and my face was on fire, which I guess is no better than I deserved. I put the fire out with Hangar 24’s Orange Wheat beer, which they have on tap (Dale Bros. and Pomona Queen, too).

Rounds is great fast food and gives you lots of options if you don’t want to spend $15 or you’d prefer to eat your cheeseburger in bed under the covers while watching episodes of Call the Midwife.  If I wanted, I could walk to Rounds from my house. I might be walking there right now. You don’t know.

Eureka! Burger
580 W. First Street, Claremont
Menu selection: jalapeno egg burger

Eureka! is a small California chain that started, surprisingly, somewhere other than Eureka. Since opening in Claremont a few years ago, they’ve become a staple of the Village scene, at least in part because they have great burgers and a rotating selection of craft beer on tap. The three most popular burgers are the fig marmalade, the cowboy, and the jalapeno egg burger. I’ve had all three and can happily recommend them to you, as well as the Loma Linda veggie burger (which I quite like in spite of my distaste for beets). This time around I went with the jalapeno egg burger, which is nothing short of sublime. This is another caramelized bun, in between which you’ll get a fried egg, melted cheddar cheese, perfectly cooked bacon that crumbles in just the right way when you bite it, chipotle sauce, pickled jalapenos, and a good-sized hunk of beef. The patty comes from vegetarian, non-antibiotical non-everything cows, which should make everyone happy but the cows themselves (turkey and veggie patties also available on all burgers for no extra charge; no word on whether the turkeys are vegetarian). In spite of all the ingredients, this burger doesn’t get very messy. All the components play together nicely, and there’s a good balance of flavors in every bite. I sat on the patio in some lovely sunshine and watched people walk by, and my only complaint about this cheeseburger was that it could not last forever.

So here’s the thing, dear reader: This is just a small selection of local cheeseburgers. There are so many even at these restaurants that I didn’t try! Do you know what that means? It means you’ll have to grab your girlfriend or your roommate or a handful of hungry strangers and go try something and report back to me. And hey, if 2,000 words on cheeseburgers doesn’t make you want to rush out and eat every burger in sight, fine. More for me. I’ll be right back.

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