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.

June 7, 2011 - 9:51pm
Several alert readers sent along info that Connecticut and Rhode Island are considering streamlining their internal education governance systems, presumably to save money. Connecticut’s proposal involves combining oversight of community colleges, state colleges, and compass direction universities in a single board.
June 6, 2011 - 10:05pm
“What about Dave? Um, I mean the Registrar?”In working through the implications of some recent and pending retirements, I’m running headfirst into the legacy of structures built around individual people.In any rational organization, Smith would have reported to Jones. But Smith and Jones just couldn’t get along, so Smith was moved to report to Johnson. When Smith retires, it’s fair to ask to whom the replacement should report.
June 5, 2011 - 9:12pm
This weekend’s tale of the tape:
June 2, 2011 - 11:56pm
This was Career Week at TB and TG’s school. Parents and other adults came in and talk to the students about their careers.I hadn’t done Career Week in previous years. I just couldn’t figure out how to explain my job to grade schoolers. “Kids, do you know what a rubric is?” “Kids, let’s talk budget cuts!” Academic administration lacks the kid appeal of, say, firefighting.
June 1, 2011 - 9:49pm
Don’t tell anyone...The brief gap between graduation and the start of summer classes is blissfully quiet.I can actually get some work done. I can even have open-ended conversations without looking at my watch every ten minutes. (Yes, Gen Y readers, I wear a watch. It’s a generational thing. Boomers wear digital watches. X’ers wear analog watches. Y’s just use their phones.)
May 31, 2011 - 11:04pm
A thoughtful returning correspondent writes:
May 30, 2011 - 9:18pm
I’ve been chewing on Adapt, Tim Harford’s latest. (He’s the Undercover Economist.) It’s a wide-ranging survey, but the basic idea is that adaptability requires making failure safe. If failure is not an option, then innovation will not occur, and eventually history will render your perfection irrelevant.
May 26, 2011 - 9:56pm
The Chronicle had a piece this week (behind the paywall) about a small college’s struggle to hire a President. It struck a chord. It’s about how difficult it actually is to get qualified and trustworthy people to step into leadership roles in academic administration.It’s true. My own college has had similar issues with deanships.The running joke about hiring deans is that you want someone smart enough to do the job, and dumb enough to take it. As the jobs get harder to do successfully, that will only get truer.
May 25, 2011 - 8:42pm
Education Gods,Grant me the endurance to get through the ceremonies I have to attend,Good alibis for the others,And the political savvy to know the difference.
May 24, 2011 - 9:18pm
You know that awful feeling when you’re stuck in a lane that’s moving so much slower than the lane next to it that it’s actually unsafe to move over? The other lane is moving so fast that you couldn’t possibly get up to speed quickly enough not to get hit, so you just sit there. If you were moving faster, you’d have the option of trying something else; as it is, you’re so badly off that you can’t. You just keep losing time.I’m convinced that some committees are like that.

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