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.

May 23, 2011 - 8:48pm
“But Joey’s parents let him play Call of Duty!”Sigh.We’ve hit the age at which our biggest parenting obstacle is other parents.TB is almost ten, and we’re discovering that different parents have very different ideas of what that means. The catch is that ten-year-olds talk to each other and compare notes.Bedtimes, acceptable tv shows, violent video games, trips to Hooters -- we’ve had to deal with variations on “but my friend...” for all of these.
May 22, 2011 - 9:34pm
It’s a commonplace that Americans hate Congress, but love their individual Representatives. Some of that has to do with the kind of residential self-selection Bill Bishop wrote about in The Big Sort, and some has to do with patronage/favors, but I suspect much of it is a function of the difference between an abstraction and a person.
May 19, 2011 - 10:36pm
When I think about the California community college system for any length of time, it makes my soul hurt. Apparently, the state is considering addressing the capacity problem in California cc’s by allowing them to establish separate, parallel course offerings at higher prices.*headdesk*
May 18, 2011 - 9:44pm
Wise and worldly readers, I need the benefit of your experience.This summer, my college will migrate from one Course Management System to another. (A CMS is the web platform used to run online courses or the online components of hybrid courses. Common examples include Blackboard, WebCT, Angel, Desire2Learn, Moodle, and Sakai.) The motivation is partly based on features, and partly based on a history of shoddy treatment by the sole vendor of a proprietary product.
May 17, 2011 - 8:34pm
Dear readers, I am announcing my candidacy for the Republican nomination for the Presidency of the United States. Any questions?Q: Who the hell are you?A: I’m a middle-aged white guy with a wife, two kids, a dog, and a house with a white picket fence. (Seriously!) I have a birth certificate showing I was born in the USA, and I meet the height requirement.Q: Okay, but how about a name? A picture?D: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from reality shows, it’s that Americans love the “big reveal.” They’ll get it at the inauguration.
May 16, 2011 - 8:53pm
An occasional correspondent writes:I have to write a letter from the employer perspective to the local community college president asking that he keep open a program that supports my business, despite the relatively high cost of the program. What arguments could employers make that would make you more likely to keep an expensive program open?A history of hiring your graduates?Demonstrated demand for enrollment?Offering cash and supplies to help the program continue?Any other ideas?Oooh, I like this question.
May 15, 2011 - 9:38pm
Okay, this probably wouldn’t be it. But if I had a short list, this would be on it.I would ban the “Appeal to Authority” as a rhetorical move on campus.The “Appeal to Authority” uses the status or stature of someone who holds a position as evidence for the position. It’s fairly common in advertising, where it often takes the form of the celebrity endorsement. Logicians classify it as a fallacy, which is technically correct, but it survives anyway.
May 12, 2011 - 9:40pm
A new correspondent writes:A friend of mine works at a different college than me. She is not tenured (she is in a position that is not currently tenure-track, but may turn into one). Students have told her that the chair of her dept. has made them uncomfortable on multiple occasions--inappropriate physical contact, pressuring to sign up for his courses. My friend has tried to bring this up to the dean but apparently the dean is protective of him and refuses to do anything about it. I think students have also approached the dean about the situation.
May 11, 2011 - 9:47pm
What should a college do when the two members of a two-person department are locked in a feud?Feuds can be toxic enough in larger departments, but there, a one-on-one battle can usually be subsumed under larger numbers. Department meetings may be uncomfortable, but the program can usually remain relatively unscathed.But when the entire department is two people, drowning out the conflict just isn’t an option.
May 10, 2011 - 9:29pm
Quick -- what’s the fatal flaw of for-profit higher ed?Adjuncts? Nope -- the nonprofits invented the genre, and have carried it to extremes.Online instruction? Nope -- they don’t have a monopoly on that, either.Low standards? Nope -- they didn’t invent low standards, and some of them are as immune to the charge as are many nonprofits.Employer focus? Puh-leeze. Have you seen community colleges lately?


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