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.

July 21, 2010 - 9:46pm
The comments to yesterday’s post shed more heat than light, but I’ll concede one point: the piece was snarkier than necessary. It was a reaction to the persistent and fundamental failure of our major opinion leaders to even understand the question. Sometimes my frustration at their obtuseness boils over, as it did yesterday.
July 20, 2010 - 9:40pm
The New York Times published a colloquy on the future and desirability of the tenure system. Per usual for the Times, not a single contributor there has any experience actually managing in a tenure-based sysem. None. Not one. Nor does any of them work at a community or state college. Honestly, it’s like they’re not even trying anymore...Anyway, the officially sanctioned view from on high misses the point.
July 19, 2010 - 9:52pm
Although it doesn’t happen as often now as it once did, we do still occasionally hire full-time, tenure-track faculty. And when we do, we have a pretty well established search process.But some parts of the process are as much art as science. One of those is picking the members of the search committee in the first place.
July 18, 2010 - 10:00pm
I’m working with a colleague who’s going through the shock that hits every new dean the first time she has to deal with someone being a colossal jerk.It brought back memories.In a perfect world, people who move into administration have established themselves as credible, hardworking, intelligent people in their earlier roles. (Admittedly, this doesn’t always happen, but bear with me.) They’ve earned respect by being conscientious and productive, and at some level they expect that others will be conscientious and productive, too. And most of the time, that’s mostly true.
July 15, 2010 - 8:57pm
Good God, I'm bored.Maybe if I shift in my seat...Nope. Still bored.Ooh! A dropbox! However might it work?Ayup, it drops. Color me impressed.Why is the presenter staring at me? Am I rolling my eyes?Try to look interested. Try to look interested.Good God, I'm bored.I bet celebrities don't have to watch dropbox demos.I bet Lindsay Lohan doesn't have to watch dropbox demos.I bet they don't even do dropbox demos in prison.They should.Naw, that's cruel and unusual.
July 14, 2010 - 9:53pm
This piece in IHE went uncommented the day it was published, which, I’ll admit, surprised me. It was one of the most hopeful pieces I’ve read in a long time.It’s about the Community College of the District of Columbia, a new institution growing out of the University of the District of Columbia. As many people know, the District of Columbia has some issues with poverty, crime, and public school performance. Just a few. Not like you’d notice. So a new community college there makes a world of sense.
July 14, 2010 - 4:40am
This happens about once a year, even here in blue-state land.A student shows up to complain that his professor is gay, and that s/he is “trying to convert everybody.” When I ask for specifics, the student quickly shifts gears to clarify that “I don't care what you do at home, but you shouldn't wave it around in my face.” Seeing a complete lack of response, the student then asserts victimhood, alleging that the professor won't give a fair shake to students who don't agree with her.I've tried a number of different responses over the years, with varying degrees of success.
July 12, 2010 - 9:36pm
Joshua Kim’s piece yesterday reminded me of a basic, but widely ignored, truth.In most industries, new technology is adopted because it’s expected to lower costs and/or improve productivity (which lowers costs over time). It doesn’t always succeed, of course, and the usual vagaries of faddism are certainly there. But by and large, the point of adopting a new technology is to make the underlying business stronger.
July 11, 2010 - 9:10pm
Put down the flamethrowers, I’m not talking about money.In the summer, with fewer people on campus and some of the committees that usually fill my calendar on hold until September, I’ve discovered an unexpected bonus: time for wide-ranging, unstructured conversation.I don’t just mean shooting the breeze, either. I mean the kind of discussions in which people have the time and implied permission to go off-agenda and really explore a topic.
July 8, 2010 - 9:02pm
I have to admit enjoying this article a little too much.Anyone who did time with Foucault will immediately think ‘panopticon’ when reading this piece about the anti-cheating technologies at the University of Central Florida. But I remember vividly the frustration as a teacher when students would cheat, and I remember the palpable sense of relief among the better students when I interrupted a cheat in progress.

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