RIGOR MORTIS: On the hetero-patriarchal trappings of “academic rigor” at Purdue.
f you are thinking of building a bridge, be careful if your engineer went to Purdue University. Donna Riley, the head of the engineering department at Purdue, has put the world on notice that “rigor” is a dirty word. In an article for Engineering Education called “Rigor/Us: Building Boundaries and Disciplining Diversity with Standards of Merit,” Professor Riley, who is also the author of Engineering and Social Justice, argues that academic “rigor” is merely a blind for “white male heterosexual privilege.” Yes, really. . . . Professor Riley’s gibberish is meant in earnest. Her essay appears not in a science fiction journal or a publication intended for the denizens of a sanatorium but a journal concerned with science. This woman is the head of a department of engineering in an institution of higher education. The moral is, we suppose, that things are always worse than they seem.
Engineering Education seems to be a place to exile faculty who aren’t up to teaching actual engineering.