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.

September 1, 2008 - 8:49pm
Although community colleges have a more age-diverse student population than most of the rest of higher ed, the average age of cc students has been dropping for a while. Our fastest growth sectors are traditional-aged students and dual-enrollment students still in high school. Since we're getting more of the classic fresh-out-of-high-school crowd, we're seeing more first-time parental dropoffs than in the past.
August 28, 2008 - 9:37pm
"1st, do not be alarmed by the burning smell in your kitchen." Oh, goody.
August 27, 2008 - 9:54pm
A new correspondent writes:
August 26, 2008 - 9:54pm
I'm really growing to hate that little paper clip that comes with so many emails. On any given day, at least half of the emails I receive have that little paper clip. Invariably, I'm supposed to read whatever is attached, immediately grasp every contentious point, and remember it all when quizzed randomly a week later by someone saying "but you knew about that! I copied you on the email!" Honestly, I'm starting to think that speed reading is a job requirement.
August 25, 2008 - 10:22pm
Readers of a certain age (ahem) will remember dittos. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and photocopying was still considered the province of the elite, public schools did mass-reproductions of handouts on ditto machines.
August 24, 2008 - 8:55pm
We're trying to raise The Girl to be a strong and independent woman, which, given her lineage, is a bit like pushing an open door. But she's four, and sometimes she has a little trouble finding the sweet spot between 'registering an objection' and 'being an insufferable diva.' Last week, towards the end of an extended tug-of-war between TG and The Wife: TW (exasperated): TG, you're being mean and bratty. TG: I'm not mean! (storms off, downstairs) (a few minutes later, overheard from upstairs)
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.

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