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.

December 23, 2009 - 9:00pm
As the family and I settle in for a much-needed Christmas break, I just want to thank my wise and worldly readers for helping me work through so many conundrums (conundra? conundrii? conundrae?) over the last few years. This year, I can say confidently that the lessons I learned on the blog -- what sets people off, how things get interpreted, etc. -- made me better at my day job. It finally started to sink in. Thank you for that.
December 22, 2009 - 9:00pm
A foreign correspondent writes:
December 21, 2009 - 9:11pm
I read somewhere that 90 percent of acting is casting. The idea was that plenty of actors are capable of performing well in the right role; the trick is matching the actor to the role. I'm struggling right now with a mismatch between actors and roles.
December 20, 2009 - 8:46pm
An occasional correspondent writes: I've applied for a dean of students position for which I know I'm unusually well-qualified and temperamentally suited. However, thanks to the economy and the desirability & location of this school, I also know there will be as many as several hundred other well-qualified applicants. The handful of us lucky enough to get an interview will be asked to campus for a full day. If you or any of your readers have any suggestions for day-long interviewing for a dean position (as opposed to a faculty one), I'd be glad to hear them.
December 17, 2009 - 9:54pm
A new correspondent writes: I'm in the market for for an administrative position in higher ed, and as I've been interviewing, I've noticed two distinct approaches to budget cuts. The first is an across-the-board cut: all departments (or employees or some other variation on this theme) get a 5% cut. The second is to pare underperforming departments and to spare the remaining ones any significant cuts. Any general thoughts? I could have sworn I had done a piece on this old chestnut, but a quick search didn't reveal one. That's okay; it's worth revisiting anyway.
December 17, 2009 - 4:11am
TW has commented, correctly, that part of the reason I'm suited to academic administration is that I'm prone to repressing emotions. Although that can be frustrating in private life, it can work well in difficult meetings. But some occasions manage to break through the repression, even when I know what's coming. Although the main campus graduation ceremony occurs in late May, some of the specialized programs have December ceremonies. And since they're small, some of them allow the students to give little statements thanking people.
December 15, 2009 - 9:24pm
You know you're grading on a curve when settling to pay out only $78 million causes your stock to go up. The University of Phoenix has reached a settlement in a False Claims Act lawsuit, in which it was charged with violating Federal law by paying admissions recruiters based on how many students they recruited. It had set aside slightly over $80 million for a settlement, and came in slightly below that. In the Chronicle piece about it, DeVry and Grand Canyon Education are alleged to have set aside about $5 million each to settle similar suits.
December 14, 2009 - 9:28pm
A longtime correspondent writes: Something that may spark some responses from your readers. One of the things about our campus culture that gets to me now and then is the “It’s OK if you’re not on campus all that much” attitude of many of the full-time faculty. Historically, this has been an institutional thing. When I interviewed for my job here — in 1987 — the chief academic officer told me that we tried to schedule classes so that the faculty only needed to be on campus two days a week. I was stunned into silence.
December 13, 2009 - 7:56pm
On Saturday I took The Boy to a competition of various clubs of kids his age. His club was there, too, but not competing. I was there as chauffeur, but also as moral support. The competition was held in a high school gym. We sat on the bleachers. Actual exchange: TB: I wonder if Madison will be here... DD: Who? (TB walks away.) I spotted him shortly thereafter, sitting next to The Blonde Girl. I'd been ditched. Not even so much as a "see ya, Dad." The Blonde Girl has entered our world.
December 11, 2009 - 4:13am
--This piece in yesterday's IHE about an abortive discussion of price caps for vocational programs made me smile. Apparently, the idea is to cap tuition for Title IV-eligible programs (vocational programs) at a set multiple of the starting salaries of recent grads. It's a horrible idea -- hiring and salaries have far more to do with the economy than with any given program -- but for a fun thought experiment, imagine applying something like it to graduate programs in evergreen disciplines.

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