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One Hundred Semesters: My Adventures as Student, Professor, and University President, and What I Learned along the Way Kindle Edition

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Length: 368 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Chace, former president of Wesleyan and Emory Universities, expounds on his half century in the academic trenches, drawing from his experiences as a student, professor and administrator at six different institutions. Through his memoir, Chace has set his sights on the larger issues of higher education, and at times is successfully illuminating. His discussions of the professor's cult of personality and the increasing economic stratification of modern higher education are particularly worthwhile, and Chace has the rare ability to take a strong stance without preaching. Perhaps inevitably, Chace's narrative returns occasionally to the introspection and self-indulgence that characterize the memoir form, but is at its best when Chace has a bone to pick, as when confronting D-1 athletics or contrasting the struggles of a professor with the role of a corporate CEO. He also tackles the ineffable quality of true education: how hard it is to explain and cultivate, and how citizens must continue to support colleges and universities to allow them to function without government or corporate oversight that could potentially change them for the worse. Rigorous but readable, this should hold interest for education professionals of all kinds.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

"None of the rooms where the work of a college or university occurs is now a secret to me," declares Chace. "I have been inside them all." As a student, professor, and university president at six of the nation's bellwether collegiate institutions, Chase has seen up close just how the campus world reflects--and in turn helps to transform--the larger national culture. His experience thus helps readers understand how the struggle for racial and gender equality has forced once-exclusive schools to redefine themselves as "multiversities" serving diverse communities. But in recounting this social progress, Chace's narrative also highlights the problematic way administrators have responded to growth by building depersonalizing bureaucracies. Chace further ponders the strange way that universities once roiled by 1960s radicals are now home base for savvy entrepreneurs. And though he does regard the university as a positive social force, Chace fears that some scholars--including his own colleagues in English literature--have wandered into ideological thickets. He laments that universities have abandoned the task of teaching moral standards and now turn a blind eye to widespread cheating. And he decries the diversion of scarce resources into bloated athletic programs. Hopeful yet sober, Chace's memoir provides an invaluable perspective on the challenges facing higher education. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 2012 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (January 10, 2009)
  • Publication Date: January 10, 2009
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002WJM50U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #810,497 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wanda B. Red VINE VOICE on September 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A disarmingly brave and revealing academic autobiography by a man whose peripatetic career on five college campuses (two where he was President) uniquely qualifies him as an observer of the academic scene. William Chace tells us at the outset, "[g]iven my experience, none of the rooms where the work of a college or university occurs is now a secret to me." True and unsurprising. What astonishes is that Chace actually invites his reader into those rooms where we observe, under the firm hand of his fine prose, the absurdities, the evasions and self-deceits, and the triumphs of courage that make up the variegated texture of modern American university life.

By telling his story (and he is a great storyteller) he manages to convey the peculiar dilemmas that face the contemporary university and to express his own strongly held views on a number of important issues facing the academy (the role of big-time sports, a university's ability to offer moral guidance to its students, the high cost of education, etc.). He also touches on other follies and oddities of the world he affectionately embraces as his natural element that are less often treated in such books: the strange ignorance of Trustees and the way institutions (probably rightly) protect them from real knowledge of the places with whose stewardship they are entrusted or the quaint way that faculty extend professional courtesy even to the most undeserving of their colleagues. The reader is also, sometimes painfully, invited to witness private agony, when events turn horribly astray, as when at Wesleyan his President's office is firebombed or later when an Emory student commits suicide and Chace must confront a father's grief. The result of all this frankness is truly extraordinary.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. M. VINE VOICE on March 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
With distinguished cogency, Professor and President Emeritus Chace commingles memoirs of his first fifty years in American academia and scholarly "lectures" on the historical and current state of higher education. Assured, methodical, and tactful, Chace's 100 SEMESTERS must surely mirror its author who navigated the halls of learning at Berkeley as a grad student during the Vietnam war campus turmoil, taught and entered administration at Stanford, and presided over diverse and sometimes chaotic Wesleyan before assuming the presidency of well-endowed Emory for nine years.

Chace shows himself to be a teacher and leader of conscience, deliberation, and pragmatism. He holds staunch liberal/progressive views, yet acknowledges the value of tried-and-true basics. For example, although he supported vigorous integration of colleges and universities when such was controversial, Chace, unlike some, valued diverse student bodies as a means to enrich the entire institution, not as a means to radical political and social ends. And in English curriculum debates, he saw the merit of broadening course offerings to include women's studies and black literature, but he also believed abolishing core book requirements would weaken quality education.

This volume scrutinizes the growth of universities into, typically, large corporate-like entities and Chace, ever the teacher at heart, takes on some of the deficiencies he has observed in this. He states, "Research should not lead to monetary profits, but to further learning." Chace adds, "What makes some schools better than other schools is one thing only: the quality of the faculty.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sierra Reader on September 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This charming and insightful educational memoir manages to tell us more about what's happening in higher education than could a truckload of educational studies. And Chace does it simply by telling his story.

Leaning toward West Point (a big place that trains warriors and engineers) over Haverford (a small place that focuses on the humanities and nonviolence), he can find no appointment to the academy and so winds up at Haverford. Almost despite himself, he soon becomes awash in the humanities -- and that perhaps makes all the difference.

Feeling his way uncertainly at first and then with more awareness, he moves from graduate school at Berkeley to professorship and young deanship at Stanford. From there he takes on the presidency of Wesleyan (in many ways a disaster zone) and then to preside over -- and admire -- Emory, the multi-purposed and distinguished Atlanta university.

It is a remarkable and instructive journey, and it tells us most when Chace is in the middle of the action, explaining his victories -- and his failures -- in prose both lucid and compelling.

Anyone on his or her way to a college presidency must read this unusual book. everyone entering the world of higher education -- student or parent or teacher -- should read it, those of us interested in seeking truth, a task the university is uniquely suited to do, need to read it.

Chace both honors the university as the best thing civilization has produced and warns us that its best qualities may be slipping away. And he makes clear that such a loss -- no matter our politics, our religions, our passions -- would diminish us all.

This disarmingly candid academic memoir is one rich in detail and long in wisdom. It may be one man's story, but it is one from which all of us should learn.
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