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Come to think of it, he does speak kind of softly

Professor Parks Sets the Tone

There was plenty of excitement this past Sunday at the Lawrence University Commencement, and the Appleton Post-Crescent seems to have captured much of it in this nice little photo layout.

Obviously, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard, so that on your left is the faculty Marshall, Professor of Mathematics Alan Parks, wielding the ceremonial (at least let’s hope so) faculty mace.

Below we have one of our graduating seniors, Karl Hailperin, who distinguished himself as an enthusiastic student, an avid reader, a stalwart at EconTea, and an all around good guy.  He will definitely be missed.

Enjoy the photos!

Karl gets his due. Congratulations!

Professor Corry Picks Up Some Hardware

Goofier than you might think...

Assistant Professor of Mathematics and charter member of the I&E Reading Group, Scott Corry, won the Young Teacher Award for — you guessed it — his teaching excellence.  Provost Burrows awarded Corry with the honor at the 2011 Lawrence University commencement ceremonies this past Sunday.

Professor Corry exhibits the characteristics of a prototypical liberal arts teacher-scholar. In addition to being a gifted mathematician, he is a man of varied intellectual pursuits — a champion of the Freshman Studies program, an avid community reader, and probably a lot of other things he doesn’t tell me about.

For us down on Briggs 2nd, he has established himself as a pillar of our  I&E Reading Group, having plowed through the likes of Schumpeter, Kirzner, and now Drucker. We look forward to reading and discussion with him for years to come.

So a warm congratulations from your friends in the economics department!

What’s with the Funny Hat?

The flowing robes, the grace... striking
The flowing robes, the grace... striking

In our continuing attempt to understand the world around us, today we will talk about the tradition of wearing cap & gowns for graduation ceremonies.

Well, the first thing you need to know is that this dates back nearly 1000 years, and the academy is a notoriously conservative place. In the words of F.M. Conrford, in his advice to young academics, “Nothing should ever be done for the first time.”* The corollary is that once we get started on something, it’s tough getting us to stop.

With that in mind, tackles the regalia question for us:

Standard fashion around 1100 and 1200 A.D. dictated long, flowing robes and hoods for warmth; the greater a person’s wealth, the higher the quality of the fabrics. This attire went out of style around the Renaissance. But sumptuary laws, often designed to prevent people from dressing above their class, kept academics (who were relatively low in the social hierarchy) in simple, unostentatious robes through the 16th century. Thereafter, academics and students at many universities wore robes for tradition’s sake. At Oxford, robes were de rigueur until the 1960s and are still required at graduation and during exams.

And, of course, the Americans played along:

When American universities sprang up in the 17th and 18th centuries, they adopted many Oxbridge academic traditions, including robe-wearing…

Continue reading What’s with the Funny Hat?