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Book details
  • SubGenre:Administration / Higher
  • Language:English
  • Pages:322
  • eBook ISBN:9798350943535
  • Paperback ISBN:9798350933406

University Follies

Jewish Roots in a Jesuit University

by Paul Warren

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All universities provide rich soil for the harvesting of tales. After only a few weeks after my new deanship at the University of San Francisco after years as PhD student and instructor at New York University, and twenty one years as professor and dean at Boston University, I knew this university and this city provided the richest soil of all. Improbable appointment as a dean in a Jesuit university in San Francisco coupled with Greenwich Village childhood, NYC public high school teaching and departure from Boston sets the stage for an often humorous and sometimes painful memoir of a dean's journey that concludes after thirteen year as dean in 'The City.' Developed from a log kept over years as dean in San Francisco, Follies is a story of memories and life in a Jesuit university and the Bay Area who carries a residue of Catholic prejudice left by his youth. Follies is tale of discovery, frustration and reward as the new dean buffeted by president, professor and student ambitions and fears – and outright foolishness, seeks to realize program goals in his new Jesuit and Bay Area world. Follies is a tale of human striving, frailty, humor and pain in a very human institution in a vibrant city.


Memories of family political anger at the Catholic Church as a youth set aside, announcement of a dean's search in a San Francisco Jesuit university provides an opportunity for respite from Boston winter weather. The San Francisco visit unexpectedly leads to the decision to trade in an uncertain Boston professional future for an uncertain future a long way from one, once again as dean, with his Jewish wife in a Jesuit education community.

The new dean wasn't prepared for a presidential directive to deal with Christmas-past condoms on a School Christmas tree, a Sister to confide the allure of 'Father-What-a-Waste' to students or an hysteric staff member to threaten an assault charge against a professor during his first month on campus. Weeks later, on sharing his unsettling first month as dean and the temptation to keep a log with the university president as he stands buck-naked next to the president in University Health Center showers, the president garbles, " Tell it as you see it." Follies tells it as he  saw it.

Personal tales of Greenwich Village days and McCarthy years' impact on his family, departure from Boston and Boston University, complement humorous, poignant and sometimes troubling tales of university presidents, professors, deans, professors and students as the dean seeks to adjust to his San Francisco environment and School resistance to change. Tension between faculty union and management plays out, celebrations and grievance over professor promotion and tenure decisions reverberate; humor, inspiration and failings of Jesuit priests, idiosyncrasies of presidents, deans, professors and students, shape the social climate of the university. After thirteen years, on recognition his role as reformer has become Sisyphusian, the dean and his wife reach reach the decision to retire. He only wished he could have had more confidence in the accuracy of the Provost' s toast farewell dinner toast, "You have accomplished irremediable good" before with mixed emotions he and his wife return to New England.

About the author

Childhood in a liberal, American Labor Party supporting, Greenwich Village family with an actress mother didn't portend an educational and professional path that would pass through Princeton University, three years of New York City public high school teaching, and a PhD from New York University as prelude to forty years of professor and academic dean positions in Boston and San Francisco. Appointments as professor, Assistant Dean and Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Dean for Research and Development in Boston led to appointment as Dean of the Boston University, School of Education by President John R. Silber in 1981. Boston assignments were marked by significant increases in federal grants for projects to support under-served urban, largely minority populations and the introduction of School academic programs to support critical, understaffed professional fields. The Dynamics of Funding, a comprehensive socio-political analysis of federal and state education project development and implementation published in 1980 built on the author's experience as co-director of a major multi-year Boston University-Roxbury community collaborative training grant and Associate Dean for Research and Development.

Boston University years were complemented by six years on the Marblehead School Committee, including chairmanship for three, and membership on the Board of Directors of the Institute for Responsive Education, among the first university programs to facilitate parent involvement in urban schools. After seven years as dean, differences with the Boston University President led the author to seek a leadership position at another institution. Serendipity contributed to the unpredictable appointment in 1989 as Dean at the Jesuit, University of San Francisco, School of Education. Service as Dean in San Francisco for 13 years provided the opportunity to initiate programs in collaboration with Teach for America, a federally funded Americorps Program and a Teaching for Social Justice Institute directed by nationally recognized activist educator, Herb Kohl. University initiatives were complemented by consultancy to the San Francisco School Department on Lowell High School admissions policy and membership in the Association of Jesuit Schools and Colleges (AJCU), including Chair of the AJCU Teacher Education Conference for two years.

After forty years as a member of a university community in 2002, it was time to retire and return to New England. Life with presidents, priests, deans and students for thirteen years in San Francisco provided a wealth of experience that permitted the author to capture the human dimension of university life in University Follies.

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