It’s possible to trace out an awful lot of interest about contemporary higher education from this seemingly peripheral phenomenon:
No-shows are a common feature at conferences nowadays, but nearly every panel I went to was missing someone and most of them canceled at the last minute and could not be replaced in time. Several of these MIA’s were said to be in the grip of personal emergencies. I am not saying that wasn’t true, but Facebooking pictures of the “emergency” that took you on vacation this weekend was a truly bold move, I must say. There was some discussion in what remained of the hotel bar as to whether the emphasis on collecting vita lines in grad school has led to a general belief in the younger generation that one must be constantly applying for things and agreeing to make presentations — a practice that then founders when the realities of a full time job and/or a full time family intervenes.