While it’s no secret many college students nowadays are heavily immersed in social networking and online culture, probably not many students return from winter break to find their university presidents writing blog posts. However, blogging is exactly what President Tim Hall has been doing in his spare time this semester.
“When you blog, you end up reaching people you wouldn’t otherwise,” said Hall, who has been writing a blog for The Huffington Post since January on education and managing a university. Hall said he received an email from the nationally syndicated publication during winter break asking if he was interested in blogging for their “college” page, and took the opportunity.
“We’re starting to get a lot of attention,” Hall said of APSU, citing both Provost Tristan Denley’s degree compass program and the university’s increasing “focus on student success” as factors, in addition to his own blog. Hall has written five blog posts since January, tackling topics from the use of technology in higher education to assessments of the Department of Education’s “Scorecard” system.
Hall also tends to use APSU as a model to demonstrate his points. One example is the post “Developmental Education and the ‘Iron Triangle,’” in which Hall discussed the push-and-pull dynamic that is said to exist between cost, quality and access to education. In the post, Hall spoke of APSU’s replacement of non-credit developmental math courses with extra tutoring for low-performing students taking normal college math.
“About 10 percent of students who started the developmental course ultimately passed that course and the credit-bearing mathematics course,” Hall wrote. “Eventually, APSU decided that a 10 percent success rate simply wasn’t good enough.” Hall said that after the change was implemented, the success rate increased to over 70 percent.
Hall said the subject matters of his blog are mostly comments on what APSU is already trying to do as a university. “We want to improve student success and learning and be able to measure the results,” Hall said.
Freshman biology major Caity Purcell was not previously aware of Hall’s blog, but said it made her feel confident about the quality of education she is receiving. “I like that our president knows enough about education to write for The Huffington Post,” Purcell said.
When asked if the extra writing took away from his free time, Hall said the blog was as much an aspect of his job as a personal project. “Sometimes, it helps to focus my attention and our attention about certain important issues,” Hall said. Hall said there is no specific timetable for his blog, but that he usually releases about one article per week.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for APSU,” sophomore philosophy major Clarissa Pulley said about Hall’s blog. “It’s not something most people can say about their president.”