• 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.


Hopes for 2015

Gainful employment for graduate programs, world peace and more....

January 1, 2015

The Wife caught a case of something nasty right before New Year’s, so our New Year’s Eve was a quiet one at home. TW packed it in around 9:30, but The Girl was excited to stay up until midnight for the first time, so the rest of us did.  

As if that weren’t enough of a generational torch-passing, during the Ryan Seacrest broadcast, The Boy pointed at Jenny McCarthy on screen, whom he did not recognize, and said that she “looks like Joan Rivers.” That hadn’t occurred to me, but he was sort of right. The shock of it made me feel old, and got me thinking.

Since I’m being reflective anyway, I thought this would be a good chance to spell out a few hopes for the new year.  

Apply “Gainful Employment” to Graduate Programs

New Ph.D.’s in a host of disciplines struggle to find jobs, and yet graduate programs keep right on chugging, often with either direct or indirect public funding.

This piece about postdocs escaping academe is simply the latest in a long line. Given how lopsided the market is, why are we still subsidizing so many graduate programs? The first order of business should be for states to shift the burden of proof on graduate programs from “why should it be shut down?” to “why shouldn’t it be?” At a really basic level, apply “gainful employment” to graduate school.


I enjoy my role in engaging with the larger higher education community from the perspective of someone in community college administration. It’s fun, and on my better days, I feel like I’m good at it.  

But after more than ten years of doing it, it seems I still have a monopoly on the franchise. That’s ... odd.

I’d like to see some of my colleagues step up. There’s certainly enough room!

Our counterparts in the elite echelons of higher ed aren’t shy about getting out there. As a result, much of the policy discussion around higher ed reflects the realities of elite institutions. Yes, faculty get out there, and I’m glad they do.  But the “how the sausage is made” perspective that admins can provide is often missing. I try, but I’m one person. Colleagues, there has never been a better time to shed light. Give it a shot!


I’d like to see what could happen if community colleges got the same per-student funding (even per-FTE) as the rest of public higher education. 2015 seems like as good a time to try it as any...


The Boy and The Girl continue to be wonderful. I just hope for another year of the same.

World Peace, An End to Injustice, Etc.

Well, yeah…


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