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 11, 2011 - 10:02pm
The Girl had her seventh birthday yesterday. TW’s parents made the journey for the occasion, and we did the whole cake-and-presents celebration.Even allowing for my bias, she’s a remarkable kid. Last week we caught the end of a documentary about feats that people have performed in emergency situations when the adrenaline was pumping. The narrator ended with “Superman isn’t from the planet Krypton. Superman is inside each of us.” TG sat bolt upright and declared “Or SuperWOMAN, Mister!” I gave her a high-five.
July 10, 2011 - 10:17pm
A longtime reader writes:
July 7, 2011 - 9:19pm
The kids who most need summer classes are the least likely to get them.The folks who study student success in the K-12 system routinely report that much of the learning gap between lower-income and higher-income students is a function of summers. The upper-income students have culturally enriched home environments and activities, so the academic backsliding over the summers is minimal. The lower-income kids, on average, get much less enrichment at home, so they backslide over the summers.I’ve never seen a reason to suspect that the dynamic stops at twelfth grade.
July 6, 2011 - 9:54pm
In an effort to crack down on unscrupulous for-profits, the Feds have passed a massive unfunded mandate on community colleges. We’re supposed to report a series of statistics on “gainful employment” certificate programs. The idea is to give prospective students a realistic sense of what they would actually get for their money, were they to enroll. It’s a sort of nutritional labeling for a certain kind of education.But it’s a real pain in the neck here in the trenches. (I know, I know, trenches don’t have necks. Just go with it.)
July 6, 2011 - 3:53am
This one is particularly for my fellow administrators out there. Strategic ignorance can be a wonderful thing, if used correctly. This is one way I’ve found it useful.Let’s say you have a professor whose classroom performance seems to be slipping. Her student evaluations are conspicuously lower than they’ve been over time, students are starting to complain, and there’s no immediately-obvious cause. This is someone who has done well in the recent past, so you know the ability is there, but things just aren’t clicking now.What do you do?
July 4, 2011 - 7:24pm
- Once in a while, it’s good for the soul to forget about all the bureaucratic stuff and just careen madly down a waterslide. - One upside of middle-aged weight gain is that it adds to your waterslide speed. Okay, that’s probably not an even trade, but I’ll take what I can get.- It’s even better when your six year old daughter, formerly afraid of waterslides, finds the courage to go, too. The look on her face at the bottom was worth the trip.
June 30, 2011 - 8:54pm
Apparently, college radio has fallen on hard times. This should come as no surprise, since radio generally has fallen on hard times.I was a denizen of college radio in the late 80’s, just before the music we played broke out as “alternative.” In those days, a new release by R.E.M. or The Replacements was a Very Big Deal. (I vividly remember the disappointment when Don’t Tell a Soul came out.) It was a blast, but it was the kind of blast that relied on a specific historical moment.
June 29, 2011 - 10:12pm
I’ve been a fan of Richard Florida’s for several years now. He’s a student of cities who has famously argued that the key to growth is in the “creative class” which tends to cluster in major urban centers. In contrast to Tom Friedman -- admittedly, that’s sort of like contrasting Sonny Rollins to Kenny G -- Florida argues that the world is “spiky.” Cities with high concentrations of creatives are the economic engines of the future; they stand out on charts like spikes.
June 29, 2011 - 4:15am
This exchange from The New Inquiry has been wending its way around the intertubes of late. (Thanks to @colinized on twitter for flagging it for me.) It’s a dialogue between “Teach,” an adjunct professor of philosophy, and “Cheat,” a term-paper-writer-for-hire. It’s surprisingly thoughtful in its consideration of the motivations behind plagiarism and the ways that faculty deal with it.
June 28, 2011 - 1:56am
Why doesn’t financial aid cover adult basic education?My college’s community has a significant population of adults whose first language isn’t English. Many of them face severely limited employment options as a result. The community also has significant numbers of people with limited literacy and basic math skills.


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