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.

October 16, 2011 - 9:46pm
Sometimes I take questions from readers, but today I have a question for you.My college will bring its first full-time Instructional Designer on board soon.For those of who have worked with instructional designers on your campuses, what should we try to encourage? What should we be extra careful to avoid?
October 13, 2011 - 8:56pm
Earlier this week, The Girl and I did a grocery run. The following exchange occurred in the ice cream aisle.TG (sighing): It must be nice to be in charge.DD: What?TG: It must be nice to be in charge! You get to decide what everyone will do!DD: Well, sometimes it can be nice. But sometimes it’s not.TG: Why not?DD: Because sometimes you have to make a decision that people don’t like, and then they get mad at you.TG: Just let them vote on it!DD (suppressing a laugh): That’s not always an option.TG: Why not?(pause)
October 12, 2011 - 10:14pm
The recent silliness in Florida, in which the governor is questioning the need for more anthropologists, got me to thinking about the whole idea of market demand for degrees. When we speak of market demand for certain disciplines, which market do we mean?There’s the market for B.A. grads (or A.A. grads, or A.S. grads) in private industry. Looking solely at that, you’d conclude that a field like psychology is pretty much DOA.Then there’s the market for Ph.D. grads in a given discipline. There, psychology looks stronger, but English isn’t looking too hot.
October 12, 2011 - 4:20am
The word “occupation” has been getting a workout lately.The Occupy Wall Street movement, which seems to have gone viral around the country, is emerging as a welcome and badly-needed counterweight to the Tea Party. It has given rise to an Occupy College movement, in which students protest excessive tuition increases, student loan burdens, and, implicitly, the lack of well-paying jobs available upon graduation.And then there are occupations, as in jobs. The lack of occupations is causing occupations.
October 11, 2011 - 4:24am
This kind of situation gives administrators fits, since there’s no easy answer.Let’s say a student is so disruptive in class that he’s making it impossible to teach. The professor exercises the prerogative to kick the student out of class. The professor files disciplinary charges, but it will be a week or more before the charges can be heard (and the student can give his side of the story). The class will meet at least twice, if not more than that, before the hearing can be held.Should the student be allowed back in class, pending the hearing?
October 5, 2011 - 10:40pm
October 5, 2011 - 4:29am
“That’s stupid.”As a professor, I gritted my teeth every time I heard a student say that. It was an attempt to shut down discussion of something that didn’t lend itself to an easy answer. Since then, I’ve seen it applied to all manner of things, from gadgets that don’t behave to other people’s motives.It’s an expression of frustration at the inability to read a situation. If I’m confronted by something I don’t understand, either I’m at fault for not understanding it, or the thing itself defeats understanding. Calling it stupid is a way of blaming the thing.
October 3, 2011 - 10:00pm
What if you could predict with confidence which prospective students would succeed in college and which wouldn’t?
October 2, 2011 - 9:40pm
Though I’m a confessed agnostic on the subject of learning styles, I enjoyed this essay quite a bit. It suggests the danger of mismatching a style of teaching to a subject matter, so that the folks who do well in the course as taught are not necessarily the folks who actually have the best sense of the subject. An easy example might be a public speaking class in which the grade is based entirely on multiple choice exams.
September 29, 2011 - 9:32pm
-- This week a student reminded me of a side of college I sometimes forget. He’s openly gay, and his mannerisms fit the stereotype pretty conspicuously. He mentioned that high school -- just last year -- was sheer hell for him, with his always being subjected to, as he put it, “faggot this and faggot that.” Having been here for a year, he said that he never hears that here. Now that he feels safe, he’s able to stop always looking over his shoulder, and his grades have improved dramatically.

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