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.

March 3, 2010 - 10:00pm
The Boy had another swim lesson last night, and it wasn't pretty. As miserable as he was, it all came rushing back to me. As a parent, it's painful to watch your kids struggle with the exact same things you did.I was never any kind of swimmer. I had the rotten luck to go to school districts that had pools, and where lots of kids had plenty of practice in water. That meant 13 years of mandatory swim units in gym class. It was horrible. I still remember some of them, and not happily.
March 3, 2010 - 3:51am
This piece on fiscal exigency and tenure got me thinking about an unexpected call I got about fifteen years ago.
March 1, 2010 - 9:59pm
Last week I heard someone drop the "administrative meddling" line. "Meddling" is one of those words that makes me skeptical the minute I hear it. A few years ago I was accused of 'meddling' in the search process by insisting that committees follow the rules.
February 28, 2010 - 8:57pm
Although Aunt B. tries to tell us out here in internet-land that the government of Tennessee is a bunch of knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing missing links, I've held out hope for the place. My Dad grew up there, Aunt B. is from there, Memphis barbecue is great; it can't be all bad. Alas, I'm thinking now that Aunt B was right.My Tennessee relatives tell me that by the rules of local etiquette, you're allowed to say anything awful about anyone you want, as long as you preface it with "bless his heart." For example: Bless her heart, Sarah Palin is as dumb as a stump.
February 25, 2010 - 9:36pm
This story in IHE came along at the right moment. My state is apparently considering an early retirement program for certain kinds of public employees, which may wind up including many of the people who work at the college. Naturally, the rumor mill is aflutter. (I'm not sure if mills can flutter, but you get the idea.)
February 25, 2010 - 4:32am
A brave-or-foolhardy correspondent writes:
February 23, 2010 - 10:35pm
Every so often, I'll hear some longtime employees complain that the newer cohort (of which they still consider me a part) doesn't care about the college like they did. The last time I heard this line, I asked what they meant; what made them think we didn't care? I wasn't expecting the answer I got: "Everybody used to go out drinking together after work. Nobody does that anymore."Well, okay. It's true that we don't now; it may be true that they did once. But what the hell does that have to do with dedication to the college?
February 22, 2010 - 9:25pm
In a conversation last week with a big muckety-muck, I realized that there are two fundamentally different, and largely opposed, understandings of outcomes assessment in play. Which definition you accept will color your expectations.
February 21, 2010 - 9:06pm
I've come up with a one-question quiz to determine whether your workplace is toxic. 1. When Smith attacks Jones in public in dirty, ad hominem, and generally unprofessional ways, and Jones responds by taking the high road, what happens?a. Jones would never take the high road. Nobody ever does. It's on!b. Jones takes the high road out of town.c. Jones is viewed as the loser, since the high road is interpreted as weakness.d. Onlookers divide into warring camps, and others do the dirty work for Jones.
February 18, 2010 - 10:13pm
I've been following the Bill Reader case with interest for the last few weeks. (For the record, I don't know him, and I don't know anyone at Ohio University.) I read it differently than most folks in internet-land. The question of the proper weight to give to considerations of 'collegiality' in tenure deliberations is a thorny one, and not where I'll focus here. I'll just note that one person's strategic vitriol is another person's hostile work environment, and that administrators who don't keep an eye out for the latter aren't doing their jobs.

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