Confessions of a Community College Dean

Confessions of a Community College Dean

In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

March 12, 2009 - 10:48pm
According to this story in IHE, a retired Duke University professor named Stuart Rojstaczer has issued a study of grade inflation. His findings suggest that grade inflation is commonplace throughout higher ed, particularly at selective liberal arts colleges and at flagship public universities in the South, but is nearly unknown among community colleges.
March 11, 2009 - 11:46pm
Tim Burke has a characteristically thoughtful post up about transparency and cost-cutting, and the various dilemmas that cost-cutting poses in the context of Swarthmore. Check it out.
March 10, 2009 - 8:50pm
what the world looks like when you're seven. An actual exchange last night: The Boy: You know, I try to hold in my farts around girls. DD: That's a good idea. TB: Yeah. If you fart around them, they won't want to be your girlfriend. DD: Probably not. TB: It's hard to convince them to marry you. Like, I want to marry Ashley, but I don't know how to make her want to marry me. DD: Well, no rush. You've got time. TB: I know that. But I want to marry her. How many more years until prom?
March 9, 2009 - 9:27pm
  For some reason, there's a persistent subset of people – both faculty and staff – who can't raise one issue without referencing ten more. Worse, they aren't raised in the spirit of “this connects to that,” but in a spirit of “and ANOTHER thing...” I call it the litany.
March 8, 2009 - 8:31pm
This article from the Chronicle, about spousal hiring, and this one from IHE, about administrative searches in a recession, are worth reading together. They're both about the real-world friction that gets in the way of hiring the best people for a given job.
March 5, 2009 - 9:26pm
An alert reader sent me the link to this article from the Springfield (Mass.) Republican. Apparently, the University of Massachusetts is sending out layoff notices to 60 faculty now, just in case it needs to actually go through with layoffs this Fall. If the stimulus package delivers enough, it will call some fraction of the 60 back.
March 4, 2009 - 10:11pm
March 3, 2009 - 7:51pm
  The story in the Chronicle yesterday about California paying its community colleges in IOU's got me thinking about reserves, and the conflicting roles they play. In good years, some cc's are able to salt away some money and put it into reserves. (It's also commonly called a “rainy day fund.”) The idea is that public funding is notoriously and viciously cyclical, so having a pile of stray money can minimize the damage you have to endure in down cycles. Given how much of our budget is fixed cost, there's a real logic to this. But reserves are a tricky business.
March 2, 2009 - 10:07pm
A new correspondent writes: I've been doing some reading in economics lately and started wondering about higher education. What are the incentives to do administration well? Sure, there's personal satisfaction in a job well done. But what about it more broadly? How does change work into this? Without a simple goal like profit, I'm finding it hard to get even little service changes in administration. Maybe I'm simply not understanding the incentives at play? I understand (I think) the incentives at play for faculty and students, but what about administrators?
March 1, 2009 - 8:41pm
    Dr. Crazy has a nice discussion over at her place about battles over curriculum. As she details it, her department has basically broken into two camps: the "eat your spinach" camp and the "let them take what they want" camp. I'm quite taken with the metaphor.

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