Kreuter arrived at Middleton College (not its real name) to serve as its interim President after a racial brawl had brought national media attention and precipitated the retirement of its long-serving president. The intent of the mid-nineteenth century founders of the small Midwest college had been to establish an institution of higher learning open to all races and women and men alike. By the 1990's, however, that promise had been long forgotten.
We see Kreuter--under the relentless scrutiny of television cameras and newspaper reporters, agencies of state and federal government, elected officials and a variety of organizations-- dealing with unhappy students and an apprehensive faculty. Amid rising levels of anger, distrust, provocation, and piety, she tries to separate fact from fiction, maintain her sense of fairness and humor, and accomplish three main tasks: curricular change, strategic planning, and responsible management procedures. Racial climate surveys, sensitivity-training sessions, sexual bias complaints, efforts at multiculturalism and diversity, and --always-- damage control are part of the daily routine. Threatened disorder and disruption on the eve of commencement, following a show-down over speakers, indicates how far apart all sides of the debate are and how hard it is to heal campus divisions.
There are no miracles or rosy endings to Kreuter's tale-- just some honest and illuminating insight on the state of education and multiculturalism in America today. Yet her story is important because it reveals what happens when the old campus world meets the new head on; it shows too that tensions can be ameliorated and that campuses, with good faith and constructive engagement, can sometimes even move towards the ideals treasured by the founders of Middleton-- justice and equality.
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"A wonderfully frank account that makes the reader feel the political temperature rising on a college campus. With wry humor Gretchen Kreuter captures the mixture of hope and cynicism about human motivations that enables people to negotiate campus politics and the pain of being denounced for political reasons. Best of all, she hangs on to her beliefs and yet learns a lot about the troubled factions on her unruly campus. A fine memoir written at high speed."
--Jill Ker Conway, former President of Smith College
"Compulsively readable and full of wisdom, humor, and good common sense."
--Paul Boyer, University of Wisconsin
"Partly memoir, partly ethnography, Kreuter's book offers unique perspectives on a year in the life of a troubled campus, through the eyes of a skilled and emphatic participant-observer. The result: both an engaging read and valuable insights into the conflicts and challenges that face American higher education and those who learn and work within it."
--Patricia A. Farrant[, editor of Initiatives: Journal of the National Association for Women in Education
Gretchen von Loewe Kreuter received her B.A. from Rockford College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin. She has taught American history at Colgate University, the College of St. Catherine, Macalester College, and St. Olaf College. Since 1980 she has been involved in college administration. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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Book Description Knopf, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0679447008
Book Description Knopf, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110679447008