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.

November 2, 2009 - 9:44pm
If I had plenty of ambition and no conscience at all, this would be my plan to get my cc through the crisis and emerge with greater resources and cachet on the other side: Upscale. Although academics as a breed love to be idealistic, I'm increasingly convinced that economic class exerts a certain gravitational pull that can only be resisted with great and ever-mounting effort. Every institutional incentive we have is to go upscale.
November 1, 2009 - 8:46pm
"I wish you could see my thinks, but they're stuck in my brain and I can't get them out." -- The Girl --------- At parents' lunch at TG's school, a little boy from her class came up and hugged TG. TW: Does he do that a lot? TG: Yeah. TW: Do you like it when he does that? TG: Yeah. TW: Do you ever hug him back? (pause) (shy smile)
October 29, 2009 - 9:06pm
I've opined before that academic deans, and community colleges, need more glamorous portrayals in the media. Dean Wormer from Animal House had one great line ("fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life, son"), but he was generally held up for ridicule. Larry Miller's "dean" character in the Nutty Professor movies got sodomized by a giant hamster. (Make 'faculty senate' joke here.) And community colleges have been almost completely invisible. So, along comes Community. It even has a youngish dean! Hmm.
October 28, 2009 - 9:04pm
Sherman Dorn has a nice response to yesterday's post, in which he basically argues that established unions are generally better off when administrators are competent than when they aren't. (Nascent unions can benefit from having a cartoonish villain to provoke their formation, but that only holds in the early stages.) I think he's right, both for the reasons he gives and for another one.
October 27, 2009 - 9:42pm
Several alert readers sent me this story about Southwestern College, a cc near San Diego. According to the IHE account, the college has banned several faculty, including the past and current presidents of the union, from campus. Their indirect support of a student protest appears to be the reason. (The President is apparently on an extended vacation, which doesn't help.)
October 26, 2009 - 9:52pm
A new correspondent writes:
October 25, 2009 - 9:41pm
These three articles are all about the same thing: kids today...
October 22, 2009 - 9:42pm
A regular correspondent wrote to mention that his cc is considering mandating laptops for all students. We've given that some vague thought on my campus, too, focusing mostly on netbooks. The idea has its advantages. - With good wifi on campus, students could do work just about anywhere, not just in dedicated labs. - Netbooks now are much cheaper than laptops used to be, and if they're required, they could (I think) be covered by financial aid. Some even have full-size keyboards.
October 21, 2009 - 9:03pm
The headlines about the enrollment booms at community colleges are accurate, as far as they go. But I realized yesterday that they leave out part of the story. Locally, our credit-bearing programs are bursting at the seams. The library is literally standing-room-only at peak hours; veteran staff tell me they've never seen that before. English as a Second Language is through the roof.
October 20, 2009 - 9:41pm
My college, like so many others, has tried to deal with the Great Recession by having a series of public meetings about what's most important to us. The idea has been to give stakeholders from around campus -- including students -- input before decisions are made, so the decisions can be made with a clearer sense of what we all think matters. No secret decisions, no hidden agendas, no "why weren't we consulted?" objections. And some of the conversations have been wonderfully productive, with a surprising degree of consensus around a couple of major issues.

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