What I’m reading: Mary Cullinan

0913 LWP Reading Cullinan 01Mary Cullinan, President of Southern Oregon University, shares what she’s reading.

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Mary Cullinan has been president of Southern Oregon University since 2006. She says her job as a university president presents challenges that require a broad understanding of different issues, as well as thoughtful analysis and response. “Reading deeply and broadly — from fiction, history and biographies to newspapers and academic journals — deepens my understanding from a variety of perspectives,” she says. “Reading also provides important moments of reflection at the end of a busy day.” Cullinan, who has a PhD in English literature, taught for many years before moving into academic administration. She recently dove into the following deep-thinking tomes:

The Story of Ain’t By David Skinner

“You might think that the history of a dictionary wouldn’t be a compelling read, but this gripping tale of Webster’s Third is a page-turner. Rocking the country when it appeared in 1961, Webster’s Third dared to include the words people actually speak. It sparked a cultural and social war that I remember vividly from heated dinner-table conversations in our house when I was a child.”

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The Politics of Happiness By Derek Bok

“Why is the world’s richest country not the world’s happiest? In the U.S., people haven’t gotten any happier in the past 60 years, even though we own substantially more material goods. The U.S. population is fifteenth among countries reporting average satisfaction with life; we’re also much more distrustful of our government than citizens of countries with a greater sense of well-being. Policymakers could learn a lot from this thoughtful analysis by the former president of Harvard.”