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 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.
July 13, 2011 - 3:40am
Sometimes I think I’ve been blessed. At my college, the academic and financial sides of administration work well together. This is not a universal condition, nor has it always held throughout my career.Based on having seen the relationships work and not work in various places, I have a few suggestions for a successful working relationship.
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.

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