The Sport of IR

football game

I was watching the NFL season-opening  game last night.   I’m not actually a football fan, but when your husband writes a book connected to football, it’s one of the sacrifices you make.  (I have also watched DOTA tournaments with my son, and thought it made about as much sense as professional football.   What can I say, I love my guys.)   I was struck by the between-play graphics of the players and their stats, and got to wondering (it wasn’t as if the game held my attention), what kinds of pictures and stats would be shown on a highlights reel of Institutional Researchers.  (You don’t know, it could happen.) Continue reading The Sport of IR

A few of my favorite things…

Red Tree
Photo by Will.Hopkins

In a recent post I mentioned one of the things that amused me about Swarthmore when I first started working here. That got me to thinking about all the things that I found, then and now, to be so charming.  So in this Thanksgiving season, I thought I’d share a few of them …

  • Candy or snacks in all of the student services offices, as well as many academic department offices.
  • The occasional frisbee flying into my office (when I was on the third floor) from the adjacent wing of Parrish – which is a men’s residence hall .
  • Former Dean Bob Gross’s springer spaniel, Happy, roaming the hallways looking for the dog treats available to him in all the offices.    And all the other dogs around campus – George and Ali, the bookstore dogs, Dobby, and the rest.
  • Jake Beckman’s (’04) artwork – the big chair on Parrish lawn, the giant sneakers hanging off a chimney of Parrish, and the giant lightswitch on McCabe Library.
  • The tin of candy that one of my colleagues brings to meetings she attends, for sharing.  Round and round the table it goes…  sweet!
  • The fact that so few people refer to their own titles when introducing themselves – just their office.  (A little confusing at first, perhaps, but that’s alright.)
  • The Swarthmore train station (regional rail) at the end of Magill walkway.   In the snow.  It’s like a postcard.
  • The beautiful portrait (painted by Swarthmore’s Professor of Studio Art Randall Exon) in the entryway of Parrish of Gil Stott with his cello.
  • Discovering the hidden talents and passions of people who work here.  There are singers, actors, stargazers, songwriters, woodworkers, animal activists, knitters, world travelers – it’s amazing!
  • The “honker,” which is the Swarthmore’s fire station’s version of a siren.  Of course I’m not happy to think there might be a tragedy – I just enjoy its uniqueness.
  • The labels on all the trees and plantings, because the College grounds are the awesomely gorgeous Scott Arboretum.

I’m sure there are many things I’ve missed.  I’d love to hear about others’ favorites!

Planes Over Swarthmore

Photo by AV8PIX

Institutional research offices are typically known as “clearinghouses” for information on their campuses.  Well, this morning I am proud to say that with WolframAlpha’s help, we are able to start tracking yet another important higher ed metric:  planes overhead.

If you enter “planes overhead” into the WolframAlpha search box, you will see a listing of planes flying over the location of your IP address.

Searching from my office on campus, I can see 5 planes flying over Swarthmore right now, including a NetJets flight at 15,000 feet.  Maybe Roger Federer asked his pilot if he could take a closer look at the Adirondack chair!

You can read more about this feature on WolframAlpha’s Tumblr.