A knowledgeable and experienced educator deftly shares the story of leading a university through challenging times.

Changing Leviathan


A college administrator reflects on his life and career, using his experiences as a road map for other leaders.

In this debut memoir, Muller focuses primarily on his role as president of Bellevue University, which he ran for more than two decades. The book traces Bellevue’s path from its founding in the 1960s by earnest academics determined to bring a strong liberal arts culture to a small Nebraska city, through a period of dysfunction and financial mismanagement, to a re-evaluation of its mission and success as one of the leading providers of online and corporate education. Muller explains the thinking that went into his leadership and decision-making, offering Bellevue’s story as an object lesson for other executives struggling to reinvent their organizations and as “a Midwestern cultural success story,” with location a key element of the school’s development. He demonstrates how the school was able to thrive by understanding that adult learners were its core constituency. The college focused on them rather than accommodating the needs of recent high school graduates, designing programs that allowed these older students to combine academics with their workplace experience. At the same time, Muller’s skepticism about Bellevue’s evolution since his retirement also allows the book to serve as a cautionary tale, demonstrating the challenges of moving forward after the departure of a single committed leader. Although the book is occasionally repetitive, particularly when it comes to reminding the reader that the goal of Bellevue’s founders was to create a “blue collar Harvard,” Muller displays a talent for pithy descriptions, like his first look at the utilitarian campus: “I thought I had arrived at the back end of a supermarket.” The result is a concise narrative that is both readable and practicable, offering insights into one of the less glamorous aspects of higher education while presenting strategies for change that can be applied to industries far removed from the world of academia.

A knowledgeable and experienced educator deftly shares the story of leading a university through challenging times.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4575-3740-0

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Dog Ear

Review Posted Online: May 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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