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.

August 31, 2011 - 4:31am
Okay, it’s late August, your college has a policy that nothing outside of a few specialized classes (clinicals, studios, labs, and developmental, mostly) runs with fewer than fifteen students. You have an outlying section with seven students. Will it run?The bane of administration is having to predict the future like that over and over again.
August 29, 2011 - 9:48pm
Why can’t you re-sell a “used” e-book?I can’t come up with a decent technical reason that it couldn’t be done. Yes, e-books are “licensed,” but licenses can be sold or transferred. That shouldn’t be a deal-breaker. If I buy (or “license”) a kindle book for ten bucks, why can’t I sell that license to someone else, for, say, five?The only answer I can come up with is that the booksellers don’t want it to happen. They don’t have much choice with paper books, so they grudgingly tolerate used sales there, but they have the option -- for now -- of not tolerating it with e-books.
August 28, 2011 - 8:48pm
The good news is that Hurricane Irene didn’t inflict any major damage on us. I know that’s not true for everyone, and my sympathies to those who were hit. TW’s parents were up all night on Saturday bailing out their basement, which is no fun at all. But all was not sweetness and light. Anyone with youngish kids knows what happens when the entire family is stuck inside for the entire weekend due to weather.Cabin fever. It ain’t pretty.
August 25, 2011 - 10:02pm
Kevin Carey, whom I consider one of the more thoughtful and interesting higher ed writers out there, made a startling claim this week that Texas governor Rick Perry is an underappreciated higher ed visionary.After wiping the spat coffee from my monitor, I actually read his piece. It’s contrarian, obviously, and I’d also say incomplete, but worth chewing on.
August 24, 2011 - 9:47pm
Watching audiences from the back of the auditorium is always enlightening. For Liberal Arts orientations, I saw many tattoos and handheld electronics, and few strollers. For Teacher Ed orientation, I saw many strollers and few tattoos or electronics. Criminal Justice usually leads the pack in baseball caps per capita, using per capita in the most literal sense.We need to figure out a way to make “information security” appealing to the masses. It's one of the few areas in which well-paying employers are going begging for people, and we can't fill classes.
August 24, 2011 - 4:35am
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the students who get their two-year degree here, and hope to get a job with it.It’s just not as easy as it used to be. And I’m not just referring to the recession, though that certainly made a bad situation worse.My college has an enviable record as a pre-transfer school, sending students on to various four-year colleges and universities where they tend to do quite well. That’s great, and I’m happy to embrace and support that side of what we do. But many students have no intention of doing that.
August 22, 2011 - 11:06pm
Wow.If you haven’t seen this chart yet, go look. It shows the cumulative growth of student loan debt in the US since 1999, as compared to cumulative growth of household debt outside of student loans in the same time period. In brief, the student loan amount increased by 511 percent since 1999; overall household debt outside of student loans increased roughly 150 percent.
August 21, 2011 - 11:15pm
Can two mature campuses share one President? Apparently, in a cost-cutting move, the SUNY system is considering having three of its sitting Presidents become Presidents of two colleges each. The idea is to save the salaries of three Presidents, and to make a conspicuous public statement about moving resources out of administration and into teaching.
August 18, 2011 - 10:14pm
A frustrated student writes (it’s a bit long):In a nutshell: I got a B and should have gotten an A, can you see why I'm uncomfortable going to talk to the dean about this? However, the letter grade isn't my gripe.Please forgive my ignorance, but, this is the bigger picture that I can't seem to gain a sense of reasoning on.
August 17, 2011 - 9:31pm
TW took the kids to visit her parents for the last few days, so The Dog and I have been on our own. Faced with an unaccustomed bit of alone time, I’ve been attacking the basement. This has involved unearthing all manner of stuff from decades past.Helpful Psychological Tip: If you want to maintain your self-esteem, never reread any of your papers or letters from high school or college. Seriously.Old photos are bad enough. They bring back memories of long-lost hair, and of unfortunate fashion choices. But old papers and letters remind you of how you thought.Wow.


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