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.

August 2, 2010 - 9:04pm
The vacation was a much-needed blessing. We were lucky in many ways: the weather cooperated, the kids were on their very best behavior, traffic wasn’t awful, the car behaved, and I was able to shed most of my workweek crankiness by midweek. Scenes from the middle of nowhere:- Kids plus large rocks equals climbing. This is true regardless of the depth of the prospective fall, the depth and temperature of the water below, and the relative agility of the kid. This is how parents age.
August 1, 2010 - 9:41pm
My psychic powers tell me that in the next few weeks, as the back-to-school rush hits, we’ll be inundated with complaints about textbook costs. This is about as risky a prediction as guessing that the sun will rise in the East.
July 22, 2010 - 8:09pm
My scholarly background is in a social science discipline, not math. I have no particular pet theory on the right and proper way to teach math. Frankly, if someone convinced me that counting sheep were the most effective way to do it, I’d gladly requisition a flock or two and tell the soccer team to practice someplace else.
July 21, 2010 - 9:46pm
The comments to yesterday’s post shed more heat than light, but I’ll concede one point: the piece was snarkier than necessary. It was a reaction to the persistent and fundamental failure of our major opinion leaders to even understand the question. Sometimes my frustration at their obtuseness boils over, as it did yesterday.
July 20, 2010 - 9:40pm
The New York Times published a colloquy on the future and desirability of the tenure system. Per usual for the Times, not a single contributor there has any experience actually managing in a tenure-based sysem. None. Not one. Nor does any of them work at a community or state college. Honestly, it’s like they’re not even trying anymore...Anyway, the officially sanctioned view from on high misses the point.
July 19, 2010 - 9:52pm
Although it doesn’t happen as often now as it once did, we do still occasionally hire full-time, tenure-track faculty. And when we do, we have a pretty well established search process.But some parts of the process are as much art as science. One of those is picking the members of the search committee in the first place.
July 18, 2010 - 10:00pm
I’m working with a colleague who’s going through the shock that hits every new dean the first time she has to deal with someone being a colossal jerk.It brought back memories.In a perfect world, people who move into administration have established themselves as credible, hardworking, intelligent people in their earlier roles. (Admittedly, this doesn’t always happen, but bear with me.) They’ve earned respect by being conscientious and productive, and at some level they expect that others will be conscientious and productive, too. And most of the time, that’s mostly true.
July 15, 2010 - 8:57pm
Good God, I'm bored.Maybe if I shift in my seat...Nope. Still bored.Ooh! A dropbox! However might it work?Ayup, it drops. Color me impressed.Why is the presenter staring at me? Am I rolling my eyes?Try to look interested. Try to look interested.Good God, I'm bored.I bet celebrities don't have to watch dropbox demos.I bet Lindsay Lohan doesn't have to watch dropbox demos.I bet they don't even do dropbox demos in prison.They should.Naw, that's cruel and unusual.
July 14, 2010 - 9:53pm
This piece in IHE went uncommented the day it was published, which, I’ll admit, surprised me. It was one of the most hopeful pieces I’ve read in a long time.It’s about the Community College of the District of Columbia, a new institution growing out of the University of the District of Columbia. As many people know, the District of Columbia has some issues with poverty, crime, and public school performance. Just a few. Not like you’d notice. So a new community college there makes a world of sense.
July 14, 2010 - 4:40am
This happens about once a year, even here in blue-state land.A student shows up to complain that his professor is gay, and that s/he is “trying to convert everybody.” When I ask for specifics, the student quickly shifts gears to clarify that “I don't care what you do at home, but you shouldn't wave it around in my face.” Seeing a complete lack of response, the student then asserts victimhood, alleging that the professor won't give a fair shake to students who don't agree with her.I've tried a number of different responses over the years, with varying degrees of success.


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