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.

November 18, 2010 - 9:14pm
Since Thanksgiving is next week, nobody wants to have meetings next week. That means that this week was doubled up.On Tuesday I had 8 meetings. On Wednesday, 6. Yesterday, 7.By the end of yesterday, I’ll admit getting a little punchy. That’s dangerous, because punchiness leads to snark, which leads to drama.I’m pretty sure there’s something in the Geneva Convention maxing out daily meetings at 6.
November 17, 2010 - 9:55pm
In a discussion last week, I realized that the common denominator to so many of my personal hobbyhorses is fatigue with the climate of permanent austerity that seems to have settled upon public higher education.Off the top of my head, I can come up with several reasons why we seem to be stuck in permanent austerity mode..First, there's the basic open-endedness of mission. How much education is enough? How many programs should we run? How small should we let sections get? Which services should we provide? Whose salaries are too low?
November 16, 2010 - 10:10pm
Academic administrators get tired of hearing the “cross over to the dark side” line. It’s tired, it’s arrogant, and it picks the wrong villain. Darth Vader isn’t the real villain; Mini-me is.Fans of cheesy-bad movies will remember Mini-me as Dr. Evil’s sidekick/mascot in the Austin Powers movies. Dr. Evil had his share of great lines (“the Diet Coke of evil”), but his true awfulness shone forth in his creation of Mini-Me. Mini-me was exactly how he sounds -- a smaller, but recognizable, version of Dr. Evil himself.
November 15, 2010 - 9:54pm
Tenured Radical’s thoughtful post on elite presidential salaries got me thinking about the “run the college like a business” canard. Most of the people who use that phrase, whether approvingly or damningly, haven’t personally worked in a college that was actually a business. I have -- you’ve heard of it -- and I can report confidently that it’s the wrong metaphor for the community colleges I know.
November 14, 2010 - 10:10pm
A new correspondent writes:What constitutes “falling behind” on grading in a college classroom and what are the consequences?It strikes me that there are two parts to this issue:
November 11, 2010 - 9:56pm
Actual dinner conversation:TW: So-and-so is dumb as a rock.TG: Rocks aren’t dumb!
November 10, 2010 - 10:12pm
A new correspondent writes:
November 9, 2010 - 9:48pm
Have you ever seen a good actor struggle in the wrong role? I’m thinking here of, say, Laura Linney in Mystic River, where she tried to play a tough working-class Bostonian. I’ve enjoyed her work in any number of other things, but she was just unconvincing in that. As good as she usually is, it wasn’t the role for her.Over the last year or so, we’ve had a few instances of that on campus: talented and hardworking staff people who were just slotted into the wrong roles.
November 8, 2010 - 9:18pm
In searches at senior administrative levels, such as presidents and chancellors, it’s common practice to release the names of finalists to the local newspaper while the search is in process. In the age of the internet, even an out-of-state search can become common local knowledge in nanoseconds.Since the most common job for new presidents is a previous presidency -- that can’t last forever, but it’s true now -- it’s not uncommon for a sitting President of college X to be revealed as a candidate for the presidency of college Y. This causes ripples at college X.
November 7, 2010 - 9:40pm
The retirements are nearly upon us.My college, like so many, hired a bunch of people all at once, then relatively few for a very long time. In terms of age cohorts, it looks like a pig in a python, and the pig is getting near the end.The dam hasn’t broken, but it’s creaking.Looking ahead just a few years, I can see the majority of the administration changing. It’s alarming, because in many areas, there’s really nobody in the pipeline to come next.


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