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Tara Parker cowrote The State of Developmental Education: Higher Education and Public Policy Priorities.
December 7, 2015

Office for Faculty Development Celebrates UMass Boston Authors


  • Boston
32 Authors Honored at 3rd Annual Provost’s Book Party

In the 2014-2015 academic year, 32 UMass Boston faculty members published books or completed major musical compositions. They were honored on Thursday at the third annual Provost’s Book Party.

“It’s a way of honoring what is really considered one of the capping achievements in an academic career,” said Judith Goleman, associate professor of English and the director of the Office for Faculty Development, the office that sponsored the event. “To bring a book to fruition is a project that requires great dedication and an endless amount of discipline and hard work.”

At the event, UMass Boston faculty and staff had a chance to peruse the books and talk to the authors. Tara Parker, associate professor of education and the chair of the College of Education and Human Development’s Leadership in Education Department, was partly inspired by the lack of books for policymakers and researchers on developmental education. Her co-authored book The State of Developmental Education: Higher Education and Public Policy Priorities was based on a three-year research project.

“We looked at courses that are designed to support students who appear to be academically underprepared. They took a test and they didn’t pass it, so somebody labeled them underprepared. We kind of question that,” Parker said.

“I’m hesitant to say we don’t need developmental education, but we wouldn’t need it if states were willing to put the money into the institutions, and the institutions were willing to do the work that’s needed to make sure that students were successful.”

Assistant Professor of History Olivia Weisser spent the last 10 years at work on her book, Ill Composed: Sickness, Gender, and Belief in Early Modern England, which uses first-person accounts to look at the ways men and women understood and talked about their bodies and health in the 1600s and 1700s.

“One of my key findings was that everyone in this time period thought that emotions had bodily effects, that if you were surprised or scared you could get sick. Women tended to do this thing that I call memetic suffering, where they actually would feel grief for another person and embody the illness of that person or embody the physical state of that person,” Weisser said. “For instance, a mother whose child is sick, she would feel this overwhelming grief and sadness for her child and would actually suffer from the very same symptoms.”

Weisser is now working on a book about a group of surgeons who lived in London in the early 1700s who specialized in curing venereal diseases.