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 7, 2009 - 11:09pm
A little while back I was involved in a meeting at which a relatively contentious issue was debated. One person prefaced her statement with something along the lines of “the such-and-such committee has discussed this, and passed a motion saying x. I'm just here to convey that.” I took issue with x, and gave my reasons. She took umbrage at my answer, and responded that “well, I'm just conveying the message, and I think that ought to be respected.” I don't know what “respect” means in that sentence.
October 6, 2009 - 8:53pm
It isn't often that you can see a historical inflection point this clearly. Posted on the same day, these two articles need to be read next to each other.
October 5, 2009 - 9:26pm
With the budget situation continuing to worsen, we're often unable to replace people when they leave. When the people in question are full-time staff with relatively niche functions, things get complicated. In the world of small private businesses, it's a matter of saying “Steve, you pick up this half of Mike's job, and I'll pick up the other half.” Or, “we just won't do that.” Or, “Steve, do Mike's job and your own.” Notice how short each of those solutions is.
October 4, 2009 - 9:12pm
In a couple of discussions on campus this week, I've had variations on this exchange: Prof: So this is why I think we should do this. Will you pay for it? DD: I don't know. The budget picture is still in flux. Prof: So you're opposed to it? DD: No, I like it. I just don't know how much wiggle room I'll have after this year's midyear cuts. Prof: So you'll support it? DD: I'll consider it. Prof: (grumble)
October 1, 2009 - 9:19pm
There's a thought-provoking piece in IHE this week by Charles Middleton, President of Roosevelt University, about hiring senior administrators from outside of higher education. It touches on themes I've addressed in part before, but is worth some reflection in its own right.
September 30, 2009 - 9:37pm
A semi-new correspondent writes:
September 29, 2009 - 9:37pm
A new correspondent writes: Most department heads/chairs are fair. That's something I'll just spot for the sake of agreement. Some are not. When it comes to dealing with course approvals and appointments and class schedules, chairs are in a position to reward friends and treat less well those they find objectionable, pains in the ass, or the invisibles. The problem is, especially for the untenured, no one would file a complaint, for obvious reasons. Deans often don't know of the crap that goes on, or if they do, there is blessed little they can do about it.
September 28, 2009 - 9:22pm
Word has it that my state is considering requiring students to file FAFSA (Federal financial aid) forms as a condition of admission to a cc. The idea, as near as I can figure, is not to leave any Federal money on the table. That said, I have one reaction: Nooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.
September 27, 2009 - 9:40pm
One of my major growth moments as an administrator came in my first year. In a meeting about course scheduling, I made a crack about how teaching too many sections of composition in a single semester can be excessively draining. (My language was a bit less polished.) I had actually done that load myself, so I spoke from experience, but it was very much with my faculty perspective.
September 24, 2009 - 10:17pm
I'm playing another round of every manager's favorite game, "why wasn't I notified?"

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