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.

June 27, 2010 - 9:21pm
Although they’re invisible to many faculty, we administrators spend an increasing amount of our time on partnerships with various community agencies, philanthropies, consortia, employment boards, and other ad hoc collaborative groups. That’s driven by several factors. First, of course, is the basic fact that many social or economic issues require multiple fronts of attack. Improving the employability of the local workforce requires higher education, but not only that; it also requires childcare, social services, and active input by prospective employers in the area.
June 24, 2010 - 9:53pm
I’ve received a couple of wonderful messages lately from readers, each touching on the theme of memory. Taken together, they’re pretty provocative. First (from an email):
June 23, 2010 - 9:39pm
Last week I heard an interview with Seth Godin in which he mentioned the need for employees to make themselves indispensable. In the context of academic administration, I have to disagree. In fact, in many ways, making yourself dispensable means you’re doing your job well.
June 22, 2010 - 9:59pm
My town is dealing with the same economic pressures as most -- declining state aid, declining tax revenues -- so it’s facing some unpleasant budgetary choices. (The culprit behind declining state aid is mostly Medicaid. Until we get a handle on that, we’re in trouble. But that’s another post.)
June 22, 2010 - 4:28am
In a brief conversation with a professor on campus recently, I was reminded of a basic assumption gap. I made a reference to pass rates -- the percentage of students who achieve passing grades in any given semester -- and the efforts we’re making there. My assumption was that pass rates are scandalously low, and that we need to improve them. He concurred that there was a problem with pass rates, but defined the problem differently. To him, the issue was that our pass rates are much too high.
June 20, 2010 - 9:33pm
Last week Congress held some hearings on accreditation requirements and the definition of the credit hour. In reaction to the increasing percentage of federal financial aid that’s going to students at for-profits, and the somewhat generous interpretations some for-profits have had of the ‘credit hour,’ Democrats decided to mount a spirited defense of the seat-time based credit hour.
June 17, 2010 - 9:50pm
I need the wisdom of my wise and worldly readers on this one.It falls somewhere between a political question and an etiquette question.Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that your campus has identified a few key goals, and that there’s pretty good campuswide agreement on those goals. Let’s say that those key goals have been given a consistently high profile. And let’s say that several different projects have run over the past couple of years in pursuit of those goals.
June 16, 2010 - 9:14pm
A few weeks ago, we went to a local photographer to get some family portraits done. Last night we went back to see the proofs. On the way back home:TW: I hope they can do something about my tooth. I hate the way it looks.DD: I didn’t notice it.TW: Well, I did.DD: Maybe I was distracted by my Incredible Growing Forehead. It’s a fivehead.TW: It’s not so bad.DD: I look like an alien.TW: TB, what did you think?TB: All I could see was my scar.DD: I didn’t see your scar!TW: It wasn’t even noticeable!TB: It was huge.
June 15, 2010 - 10:05pm
According to this story from IHE, a provost lost her job after her President found out that she had applied for a position elsewhere. Apparently the President was offended that she was willing to consider working someplace else, and told her that if she interviewed there, he would replace her. She interviewed, she didn’t get that job, and she lost the job she had.
June 14, 2010 - 9:42pm
Several alert readers sent me this piece from the Washington Post. It glosses a study conducted at the Air Force Academy that finds that


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