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.

August 21, 2008 - 4:57am
With classes starting any minute now – I can see the dorsal fin in the water – the folks in Student Services are working full-tilt. They're trying to get everybody registered, to deal with all the financial aid paperwork, and to get all the details under control before the start of classes. That's fairly standard. What I didn't really appreciate until a passing comment today was how much of the late crush is due to the 'safety school' phenomenon.
August 19, 2008 - 9:56pm
Dear Editors of Money, This one has been making the rounds on campus. The September issue of Money magazine features an article by Penelope Wang entitled "Is College Still Worth the Price?" (I haven't been able to find it online.) It features the obligatory references to Vassar, climbing walls, arms races, the Chivas Regal effect, and superstar professors. It's intended to motivate parents to subject the pricey colleges and universities to cost-benefit analyses, and it could easily have been written ten years ago. But it also contains a memorable howler:
August 18, 2008 - 9:13pm
Last week I was in a meeting with the college controller – the money guy – who mentioned that this July's gas and electric bill for the college was forty percent higher than last July's. (And this isn't one of the really huge cc's, either.) Over the course of a year, that's roughly half a million dollars extra on what, in the short term, is really a non-optional expense. Ouch.
August 17, 2008 - 9:21pm
This year I'm seeing again some very creative definitions of the word 'emergency.' It's a special word, since it gives license to ignore the usual rules about all manner of things. It's easy to come up with cases in which a drastic, sudden change in circumstance required some improvisation in the short term – natural disasters, a string of snow days in a row, an unexpected and abrupt death. When things like that happen, there often isn't enough time to fulfill every procedural nicety, and there's a general understanding that some slack need be cut.
August 15, 2008 - 5:03am
A frustrated correspondent writes:
August 13, 2008 - 10:21pm
A faithful reader writes:
August 13, 2008 - 9:42am
"Past practice" is a magical, if murky, phrase. It's the status given, by default, to policies or practices carried out over time that never quite found their way into actual contracts or handbooks. It's understood to have a binding power of its own, such that any change to an established 'past practice' needs to be negotiated or otherwise made explicit through proper channels.
August 11, 2008 - 9:27pm
This probably happens almost everywhere, but I'm noticing it more here lately.
August 11, 2008 - 12:35pm
Actual conversation with The Girl last Friday: TG: What did you do at work today, Daddy? DD: It was pretty busy. I had to talk to a lot of people. TG: But what did you do? DD: That's what I did. I had to meet with a bunch of different people. TG: Meetings? DD: Yeah, that's when people get together to discuss things. TG: But didn't you do any work? (pause) DD: Well, I did use the computer some… TG: Yeah, that's how people work.
August 7, 2008 - 11:11pm
This should be fun... In light of Wednesday's post, an alert reader sent me a link to this article from Academe, which is published by the AAUP. It's a faculty-driven attack on high administrative salaries, drawing particular attention to some particularly obtuse Presidents.

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