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 27, 2011 - 4:26am
I’d have everyone on campus read Moneyball, by Michael Lewis.
July 26, 2011 - 12:53am
This piece in IHE last week set off quite the firestorm. It’s about the felt futility of teaching the dreaded 8 a.m. class. I would have written it differently, but it raised a valid issue.Been there, done that. Hated it. And it raises one of those questions for which nobody has a great answer.
July 24, 2011 - 10:02pm
A frustrated correspondent writes:
July 21, 2011 - 10:36pm
Should there be a separate orientation for the parents of new students?The idea is gaining some traction locally, and I have to admit seeing some logic to it. It represents an intersection of separate trends, but it also raises some tricky issues.
July 20, 2011 - 10:01pm
Sometimes I feel bad for Illinois. It has had some issues with its state government -- cough -- that have prevented it from coming to grips with, say, a catastrophically underfunded public employee pension system, or with the reality of biweekly paychecks.That said, its recent proposal to use student aid as an incentive for transfer students to start in community colleges is intriguing.
July 19, 2011 - 9:46pm
A former boss of mine used to say that the key to management consisted of asking “the second question.” The second question was a variation on “why?” In his estimation, when confronted with “pushback” -- the approved euphemism for “no” -- your job was to ask the person the basis for his opposition. In theory, you could then get around the pushback by getting at the underlying causes.It’s one of those theories that works perfectly about five percent of the time. The glaring flaw is that it presumes that your interlocutor is both self-aware and naive. Most aren’t.
July 18, 2011 - 9:36pm
Like many colleges, mine is wrestling with a twofold issue: how to improve student success rates generally, and especially how to improve the success rates of students from underrepresented groups (typically defined by race and income, though “first-generation” status would also count).. While the two issues obviously overlap, they aren’t interchangeable.
July 17, 2011 - 9:37pm
The son of some family friends is starting college this Fall. They know where I work, so they’ve asked for pointers, and I’ve shared them freely. It occurs to me that some other folks might find them useful, too. So in the spirit of openness, some advice for students starting at a community college this Fall:
July 14, 2011 - 9:04pm
Okay, this is really more Joshua Kim’s territory than mine, but a guy can dream. Some tech developments I’d love to see in the very short term:- A meaningful competitor for Comcast. Locally, my choices for home broadband are Comcast or DSL. Accordingly, Comcast acts like the monopolist that it basically is.
July 13, 2011 - 10:00pm
A thoughtful correspondent writes:I really wish someone would figure out a useful guide for identifying bloat, so I can know it when I see it and know whether to get rid of it. I used to think, for example, that the lab techs were just people who scrubbed out the test tubes because lazy students didn't do it, and prepared slides because lazy profs didn't do it. Then I found out that some of those lab techs also ensure compliance with federal safety regulations. The last thing I want to do is to cut our compliance staff.


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