Ted Loder making a point, and pointing his finger. Joy on his face.
Ted Loder making a point, and pointing his finger. Joy on his face.
Ted Loder in Dialogue.

Ted Loder, eloquent preacher, fierce advocate for justice, long-time minister of the First United Methodist Church in Germantown, and my beloved step-father, died on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Ted always encouraged us to watch for the “sneakiness of God,” to notice how the mysterious presence of holiness encounters us in our everyday life with one another.

Ted died at 10:15pm on Maundy Thursday, which this year fell on April Fool’s day. Seems something sneaky is going on here; and I imagine he would smile knowing I am trying to write my way through the tears that flow easily now, on…

Fall leaves along the banks of the Red Cedar River
Fall leaves along the banks of the Red Cedar River

There is a line from Seinfeld that cuts to the heart of the distinction between sincerity and ethical candor. In a desperate attempt to beat a polygraph machine, Jerry turns to George, a practiced liar, for advice. As Jerry gets up to leave, George offers this:

Jerry, just remember … it’s not a lie, if you believe it.”

The humor in this lies, I think, in the gap it establishes between sincerity and ethical candor.

Sincerity requires earnest belief, even if what is believed is untrue. One can actively assent to a lie one tells oneself. Ethical candor, however, is…

The following reflections are offered in the context of the opening colloquium of the College and Beyond II: Liberal Arts & Life series. #collegeandbeyondii

The current pandemic is an apocalypse — an uncovering. It reveals at once our irreducible interconnectedness and the deep disparities that demonstrate our complete failure to live up to the ideal of justice to which we profess to aspire.

Whether or not this apocalypse becomes a catastrophe — a down turning, a diminution of human potentiality — will depend in no small part on our ability to transform the education we offer into a catalyst for…

Linton Hall and the Resilient Tree on the MSU Campus

Dear MSU Class of 2024,

Welcome to Michigan State University and to the College of Arts & Letters!

You are embarking on an education that will forever shape the course of your life.

At the very moment you begin this journey of personal transformation in your life, we are living through an intense period of transformation in our society. The pandemic has caused us to move this semester online to protect the health and safety of our community. …

Time is but a shadow, photo by author.

In October 2019, I attended a three-day workshop on Driving Institutional Change for Research Assessment Reform jointly convened by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) on the beautiful HHMI campus in Chevy Chase, Maryland. My time with the 60 or so participants in the workshop, which included researchers, librarians, administrators, funders, members of learned societies, and a wide range of colleagues from across the sciences, afforded me an opportunity to reflect further on the transformative power of a values-based approach to higher education reform in general, and to research assessment in particular.


Michigan Wildflowers, photo by author.

As this disquieting semester comes to a close, it’s appropriate to pause for a moment to reflect on the distance we have traveled and the path that lies ahead.

Over the past five years, we in the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University have made intentional efforts to identify the core values that shape our work. In conversations within units across the College, faculty and staff have engaged in a process of self-reflective dialogue about what we value as individuals and as a group.

Trust grows in such conversations. Values orient us when we are uncertain, empower…

On September 26, 2019, I had the opportunity to address the Michigan State University President’s Council, which includes the Deans Council and the Executive Leadership of the University, about the values-based strategic planning process we have undertaken in the College of Arts & Letters. In our ongoing effort to cultivate habits of openness, we have been consulting with colleagues and carefully considering how to most appropriately make some of the things I said that day public. I offer an account of the presentation here with the slides the College of Arts & Letters Marketing and Communications team and I developed…

Green connected ropes forming a network with beads at each intersection.
Green connected ropes forming a network with beads at each intersection.

In the summer of 2018, a group of MSU Deans came together to write an essay that was published in Inside Higher Education under the title: “ Can Michigan State Recover and Chart a New Path for Higher Education? “ In the essay, we wrote:

Academe is called to cultivate institutional habits of truth telling and truth hearing, critical self-reflection, and accountability. We must consciously and intentionally empower those habits on our campuses to meet that calling.

It is one thing to call for the change we need, quite another to create institutional habits capable of putting the needed change…

Michigan Agriculture College seal over the east entrance of Linton Hall

Welcome to the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University!

As you embark on your educational journey here at MSU, I invite you to consider the doors that are opening for you all across campus. Each door offers an opportunity, as daunting as it is exciting, to establish meaningful connections, discover new ideas, and develop relationships that will shape the course of your life.

Every door has a threshold, a transitional space through which you pass as you move from one place into another. …

It has been difficult to write for the public in the months since posting the Open Letter to the College of Arts & Letters in the wake of the survivor impact statements that are transforming Michigan State University. Part of the difficulty is what my thoughtful #SpartanDean colleague, Prabu David, emphasized when he wrote that it is challenging to find the right words for our current situation. But also, it has been difficult to convey to a broader public the intense interpersonal work we are doing in the College to create the culture change we need.

At our Fall 2017…

Chris Long

Dean, College of Arts & Letters, Michigan State University; Professor of @MSUPhilosophy; Co-Founder of @PubPhilJ; Co-PI of @HuMetricsHSS.

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