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.

February 25, 2010 - 4:32am
A brave-or-foolhardy correspondent writes:
February 23, 2010 - 10:35pm
Every so often, I'll hear some longtime employees complain that the newer cohort (of which they still consider me a part) doesn't care about the college like they did. The last time I heard this line, I asked what they meant; what made them think we didn't care? I wasn't expecting the answer I got: "Everybody used to go out drinking together after work. Nobody does that anymore." Well, okay. It's true that we don't now; it may be true that they did once. But what the hell does that have to do with dedication to the college?
February 22, 2010 - 9:25pm
In a conversation last week with a big muckety-muck, I realized that there are two fundamentally different, and largely opposed, understandings of outcomes assessment in play. Which definition you accept will color your expectations.
February 21, 2010 - 9:06pm
I've come up with a one-question quiz to determine whether your workplace is toxic. 1. When Smith attacks Jones in public in dirty, ad hominem, and generally unprofessional ways, and Jones responds by taking the high road, what happens? a. Jones would never take the high road. Nobody ever does. It's on! b. Jones takes the high road out of town. c. Jones is viewed as the loser, since the high road is interpreted as weakness. d. Onlookers divide into warring camps, and others do the dirty work for Jones.
February 18, 2010 - 10:13pm
I've been following the Bill Reader case with interest for the last few weeks. (For the record, I don't know him, and I don't know anyone at Ohio University.) I read it differently than most folks in internet-land. The question of the proper weight to give to considerations of 'collegiality' in tenure deliberations is a thorny one, and not where I'll focus here. I'll just note that one person's strategic vitriol is another person's hostile work environment, and that administrators who don't keep an eye out for the latter aren't doing their jobs.
February 17, 2010 - 9:48pm
It may seem weird for me to ask this now, after all these years, but how does your college allocate positions? I've seen it done in a few ways, and I have my own preference, but I've never actually seen alternatives spelled out systematically. The most common way that I've seen has been as a sort of spoils system for gladiatorial combat among administrators. Each dean curries favor with the VP over time, and when hiring time rolls around, positions are allocated in rough proportion to the political standing of the deans.
February 17, 2010 - 5:21am
Last night I took The Girl to the local Father-Daughter dance, which is a big event for girls here in the K-5 set. TG was soooo excited to go. Her dress looked like the chocolate-strawberry-vanilla ice cream cartons, with bands of white, pink, and brown. We took a bunch of pictures at home before heading out, so the Grandmas will have pictures of TG in her finest. TW took The Boy to see the new Percy Jackson movie. Fair is fair. He gave the movie the thumbs-up.
February 15, 2010 - 9:30pm
I know I'm supposed to believe that standardization, state or national rules, or anything beyond local control is of the devil, a corporate conspiracy, and of a piece with water fluoridation and the metric system on the list of communist conspiracies against our way of life. I get that. But I'm still at a loss to explain why we leave some really fundamental decisions in the K-12 system to local control.
February 14, 2010 - 9:24pm
Every time I hear about a shooting on a college campus, I wince. This one was especially surprising, given that the (alleged) shooter was a professor and a woman. It seems that Amy Bishop, a professor in the biology department at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, opened fire at a department meeting, killing several colleagues and wounding several more. She has been taken into custody, and she will face murder charges. Although it's hard to know immediate causes, Prof. Bishop had recently been denied tenure, and this was to be her final semester at Alabama.
February 11, 2010 - 11:40pm
An off-the-beaten-path correspondent writes:

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