The world of academia isn’t exactly known for its pleasantries. Rabia Gregory, an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Missouri at Columbia, stereotyped some in the field as “brutish self-centered narcissists who delight in tearing apart the work of others for sport.” But Gregory also wants to show that higher education isn’t just full of sharks. In her new Tumblr called Academic Kindness, students and educators anonymously post their experiences of unsolicited acts of kindness, generosity and goodwill from their peers. These good acts range from a senior faculty member taking his students out to a free lunch, to a shared zip file of research data that saved another student $1,000.
Another post described how a simple recommendation letter from a busy assistant professor helped the author land a competitive, full-time lecturing position. “When I think about how much I owe her, it sometimes brings tears to her eyes,” the author wrote. “I would not be where I am today without her.”
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A seemingly unremarkable act from one scholar can make a world of difference in another. “By publicizing these acts of academic kindness I hope to document that generosity and compassion are normative in academia,” Gregory wrote in the Tumblr’s first post. Here’s to scholars paying it forward for generations to come.