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 5, 2010 - 9:39pm
Should a community college train people for the industries that are currently there, or for the industries that seem likely to be there in the near future?I’ve been chewing on this one in light of some recent proposals floating around to get students prepared to certain kinds of manufacturing firms that, in my humble estimation, may not be much longer for this continent. (To be fair, a similar objection could be lodged at certain kinds of journalism programs, though I suspect that journalism will morph rather than die.)
July 1, 2010 - 9:57pm
Credit where credit is due: this story suggests that the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association -- the regional accreditor of record for much of the middle of the country -- is finally righting a longstanding wrong.
June 30, 2010 - 10:16pm
Last night TW and I took the kids to the local library for Bingo for Books. (It doubled as an excuse to return a pile of books we all had finished, and to get some new piles.) On the way into the library, we ran into a family whose younger daughter is in TB’s class. When she saw TB, she immediately hid behind her older sister. Her sister shoved her out in front, and she smiled at TB. It was a classic embarrassed-to-see-my-crush move. TW and I decided that his charm comes from double recessive genes.
June 29, 2010 - 10:06pm
They don’t teach this stuff in dean school.I hear a rumor that a professor has moved out of his office, and intends to take a job this Fall thousands of miles away. Nobody knows the institution, though, only the geographic region. He has family there.I’ve received no communication at all from this professor. Neither has his chair. Neither has human resources.I wander by his office, and notice that not only is it empty -- this from someone who has some pronounced “packrat” tendencies -- but that his nameplate is gone.Hmm.
June 28, 2010 - 10:02pm
As regular readers know, I’m a colossal nerd. One of my nerdier habits involves listening to Marketplace podcasts on a daily basis, and even the weekly wrap-up show on weekends. (Livin’ la vida loca!) Over the past few days, I’ve heard variations on these two themes, and I’m having a hard time believing them simultaneously:1. New college grads are having a terrible time finding jobs. To the extent that many can find jobs, they’re often in positions that don’t really require college degrees.
June 27, 2010 - 9:21pm
Although they’re invisible to many faculty, we administrators spend an increasing amount of our time on partnerships with various community agencies, philanthropies, consortia, employment boards, and other ad hoc collaborative groups. That’s driven by several factors. First, of course, is the basic fact that many social or economic issues require multiple fronts of attack. Improving the employability of the local workforce requires higher education, but not only that; it also requires childcare, social services, and active input by prospective employers in the area.
June 24, 2010 - 9:53pm
I’ve received a couple of wonderful messages lately from readers, each touching on the theme of memory. Taken together, they’re pretty provocative. First (from an email):
June 23, 2010 - 9:39pm
Last week I heard an interview with Seth Godin in which he mentioned the need for employees to make themselves indispensable. In the context of academic administration, I have to disagree. In fact, in many ways, making yourself dispensable means you’re doing your job well.
June 22, 2010 - 9:59pm
My town is dealing with the same economic pressures as most -- declining state aid, declining tax revenues -- so it’s facing some unpleasant budgetary choices. (The culprit behind declining state aid is mostly Medicaid. Until we get a handle on that, we’re in trouble. But that’s another post.)
June 22, 2010 - 4:28am
In a brief conversation with a professor on campus recently, I was reminded of a basic assumption gap. I made a reference to pass rates -- the percentage of students who achieve passing grades in any given semester -- and the efforts we’re making there. My assumption was that pass rates are scandalously low, and that we need to improve them. He concurred that there was a problem with pass rates, but defined the problem differently. To him, the issue was that our pass rates are much too high.


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