Higher Education Webinars

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.

December 20, 2010 - 4:36am
This story about course repeaters in California struck a chord with me. We’re facing a similar question at my own campus.Apparently, California is considering amending its policies on allowing students to repeat courses as many times as they want. It’s looking at a cap. The idea is that seats in classes are not infinite, and once someone has whiffed several times, someone else should have a shot.
December 17, 2010 - 4:31am
Students say the darndest things. Just this week, before the official start of the final exam period, I overheard a cluster of students complaining about all the final exams they had already taken. One was especially miffed at having three exams on the same day.And I thought, hmm.
December 16, 2010 - 3:56am
Tis the season for student evaluations of their instructors, so I thought I’d share some thoughts on how best for administrators to read them.
December 14, 2010 - 9:35pm
This comment by Dr. Crazy about yesterday's post stuck with me. In explaining – very clearly – why she refused to move into administration, she noted that much of what attracted her to academia is precisely what keeps her out of administration. Instead of teaching and doing research, both of which she enjoys, she'd have to spend her time in committee meetings and dealing with recalcitrant colleagues. Plus, she'd have to do it eight-plus hours a day, five days a week, twelve months a year.
December 13, 2010 - 10:02pm
Over the past year, my college has advertised for both tenure-track faculty positions and administrative positions. (More of the former than the latter.) The tenure-track faculty applicant pools, unsurprisingly, have been large and deep, with no shortage of very qualified people. The challenge for the search committees has been to discern relative degrees of excellence.The administrative applicant pools, by contrast, have been markedly thin. After filtering out the clearly underqualified, we were left in the single digits.Odd.
December 12, 2010 - 9:25pm
Friday’s IHE did a story featuring a report by Douglas Harris and Sara Goldrick-Rab that’s well worth reading in its entirety. In a nutshell, it measures the ‘productivity’ of various programs, using what boils down to dollars-per-graduate. Among other things, it suggests that call centers to nudge students into attending class have great bang for the buck, but that Upward Bound and similar programs are wildly expensive for what they achieve.
December 9, 2010 - 8:41pm
Last week I heard a story on Marketplace that struck me as helpful in understanding the chronic shortage of tenure-track faculty jobs.It mentioned that a recent study found that over the last several years, there has been a net of zero job growth in companies five years old or older. All of the job growth – all of it – can be accounted for by startups. “Mature” industries don't power growth.And I thought, hmm.
December 8, 2010 - 10:01pm
This one may be a little inside-baseball, but folks new to administrative roles may find some value in it.Let’s say that you’re a newish dean, and that you have a department that’s resisting something that you believe needs to be done. You get the sense that it has a strong contrarian streak, and that it rather enjoys making deans squirm just for the hell of it. Which of the following would you consider a victory?
December 8, 2010 - 4:39am
According to this piece from the SUNY New Paltz student newspaper -- hat-tip to the NFM Twitter feed on this one -- the faculty union at SUNY New Paltz is urging the administration there to spend down its reserves to prevent spending cuts.I’ll admit laughing out loud at one passage, citing chapter Vice President Peter Brown:
December 6, 2010 - 8:55pm
Every parent knows the moment is inevitable. I think The Boy is onto us about Santa.He hasn’t actually said as much, and heaven knows I don’t want to plant the seed just yet. But last weekend when the four of us went out to see Santa -- and stand in a line two hours for the privilege -- I couldn’t help but notice a telltale indifference.


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