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.
May 27, 2008 - 10:52pm
It's easy to underestimate the impact of sex scandals.
May 27, 2008 - 5:22am
Over at IHE, there's a story glossing two new studies that suggest that academics are less likely to have kids – and to have fewer, when they do -- than professionals in other fields with similar levels of training. The comments are worth reading; stories on this topic always generate a fair bit of interest.
May 23, 2008 - 4:54am
In a conversation with one of my department chairs this week, addressing a move we're considering making to respond to a state mandate, he asked a variation on "how do we know this will work?" I responded that we didn't, but that we knew that doing nothing would surely fail, and that the move we're considering seemed the most reasonable choice available. If he had a better idea, I was happy to hear it, but in the past year that this has been on the table (and we've been discussing it and our possible responses), nothing better has come along.
May 21, 2008 - 11:17pm
Money shortages create all manner of frictions. Say you have a large group that believes, with varying levels of truth, that it's underpaid. Say that there's nowhere near enough money floating around to bring the entire group up to the level it wants. (Not that this ever happens, but bear with me.) Barring a visit from the Money Fairy, or a really drastic, from-the-ground-up restructuring in which absolutely everything is on the table, you basically have four choices:
May 20, 2008 - 10:42pm
This semester, I think my cc has set a new internal record for public presentations. We've been staging talks on issues of broad public interest – some by faculty, some by invited speakers – and opening them up to the community for free. Some have attracted significant community interest, some haven't, but we're starting to get some momentum.I'm honestly proud of this.
May 20, 2008 - 10:03am
Every so often, my usual discipline slips, and I actually venture a prediction in print. (If it's a blog, is it really 'in print'? I'm not sure what the cyber equivalent of that is. In pixel?) A few of them even turn out to be right. A couple months ago, referring to the badly bungled presidential search at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY, I wrote:
May 19, 2008 - 5:16am
This weekend, TW and I had a chance to visit a couple of really well-known college towns a few states away. (If you're in higher ed, you know them.) My Mom valiantly volunteered to watch TB and TG, so off we went, sans children. The travel was grueling - my kingdom for a cure for traffic - and our other obligations daunting, but we were able to set aside some time to wander the downtowns. I had forgotten how much I missed college towns.
May 16, 2008 - 5:48am
1. Need goes unmet for extended period. 2. Unmet need strikes someone with connections. 3. New aid program proposed. Much fanfare. 4. "Christmas tree" amendments added, costs understated, bill passed, hosannas all around. 5. A year of implementation glitches, but spirits remain high. 6. Word gets out - more people than anticipated take advantage of the program. 7. Cost overruns. 8. Idiotic (possibly apocryphal) abuse case gets high public profile. 9. Means test proposed. Committees formed. Abuses investigated.
May 14, 2008 - 9:47pm
The story of the Norfolk State professor fired for failing too many students (see IHE's story here) is a kind of inkblot test. My own reaction is conflicted.
May 13, 2008 - 10:02pm
Over at Easily Distracted, Tim Burke has a fascinating piece outlining his proposed hypothetical liberal arts college. Among other things, it does away with academic departments, favoring faculty who (as I read it) draw liberally on different fields of study, and encouraging students to become intellectual free agents. (He uses the term 'polymaths.') It's worth reading carefully.