• 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.


Friday Fragments

Summer Pell, true savings, not your standard play list.

January 22, 2015

This piece by Jason Delisle and Ben Miller suggests that many of the political attacks on the short-lived year-round version of Pell were misinformed or misplaced.

From a campus perspective, the major issue with year-round Pell was that it was both introduced and dropped abruptly. We didn’t have time to completely restructure our academic programs to take real advantage of the opportunity; by the time we started, it went away.

Community colleges are stereotyped as being instantly responsive, and in some cases, that’s true. But some changes take a little longer.

And not all good things go together. If we move to a more robust set of summer offerings, then by definition, we will increase our adjunct percentage. That’s because the full-time faculty position applies only to the Fall and Spring semesters. From a cost control perspective, that may be a good thing; from a faculty perspective, not so much.  

If we want to enable students to finish degrees more quickly, enabling year-round enrollment should be a no-brainer.  But let’s not make the mistake of assuming that it’s just a matter of flipping a switch. Getting it right would take a few years, and we would need to commit to that upfront.  Otherwise, it would once again only make a difference on the margins.


I don’t usually advertise my own college on the blog, but I’m happy to report that HCC is signing an agreement with Westfield State University today for a two-plus-two bachelor’s degree for a total four-year cost to students of $30,000.  (That doesn’t include living in the dorms at WSU.)  

Unlike certain $10,000 degrees, this one is real, open to any in-state resident, and available across a host of majors.  It can be done.


Chuck Pearson reminded me of this.  You may direct the emails to him.

Back on 2007, in a post about trying to wake The Boy when he really didn’t want to get up, I wrote:

Last week, when more traditional measures had failed, I resorted to the following, of which I am not proud:

“Get up or I'll start singing Anne Murray songs, and nobody wants that!”


(In my best Peter-Brady-voice-changing delivery) “SPREAD YOUR TINY WINGS AND FLY AWAY...”

(TB grunts, chuckles, and climbs out of bed.)

Adolescence is going to be sheer hell for the poor kid. I have a whole repertoire of cheesy MOR 70's hits memorized, due to some really unfortunate parental taste in music. Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers, Rita Coolidge, Juice Newton; you know the type. I haven't yet resorted to “Angel of the Morning” or “Space Cowboy,” but I haven't ruled them out, either. I'm saving “Horse With No Name” and “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft” for emergencies.

Since then, I’ve introduced some more contemporary material. The kids don’t know from Anne Murray -- you’re welcome -- so instead I’ve started doing my distinct cover versions of songs that I know they know.  “Bad Romance,” by Lady Gaga, works pretty well; something about a middle-aged man warbling “GA GA GA GA GAAAAA” in the wee hours of the morning is horrifying enough to wake even the most determined sleeper.  (Once, it actually made The Dog cry.)  Recently, Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” has been a favorite.  When I break into “Haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate hate,” The Boy actually shudders.  To be fair, the distinctive dance moves probably don’t help...

There comes a point at which you just have to own the “corny parent” role. It’s more fun than you might imagine.



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