Higher Education Webcasts

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 14, 2012 - 9:18pm
My college offers a January intersession. The idea is that students take a single class in a compressed timeframe. For the last few years, it has worked remarkably well for students who are already here. They can either make up for a slip in the Fall or start making headway on the Spring. Course completion rates have floated around the 90 percent range, since such a short timeframe doesn’t give much opportunity for life to get in the way. And anecdotal feedback from the faculty who have taught it has been glowing; they report that there’s an intensity that comes from “owning” the student entirely for a short time that lends itself well to certain types of classes.
October 11, 2012 - 8:55pm
With much of selective higher ed focused on the Supreme Court and its impending declaration on affirmative action in admissions, I’m grateful again to be at a community college.  Here, affirmative action in admissions is a non-issue; we take all comers.  We have our own legal and political challenges, heaven knows, but not that one.
October 10, 2012 - 10:00pm
Connecticut’s new centralized higher education system office has apparently been making either offers or threats -- there’s some dispute, and I have no inside information on it -- to community college presidents.  As I understand it, the legislature passed a law last year limiting remedial coursework to a single semester.  Apparently, some campuses have balked, so the system office has let the presidents know that if they feel unable to comply, they are welcome to leave.
October 9, 2012 - 9:30pm
I love this question. A new correspondent writes: "Do you (or any of your wise and worldly readers) have any advice about looking for or finding clues to a college's culture, before you actually work there?"
October 9, 2012 - 3:00am
A few years ago, I floated the idea of an upscale proprietary. (For convenience, I called it Mercedes U.) My argument was that for-profits have, until now, focused on the lower end of the market, where they have to compete with (subsidized) community colleges. Since they can’t compete on price at the low end, I suggested, better to try on the high end. (In California, at this point, they can compete simply by being open. But in the other 49 states, the argument still stands.) The only attempt I saw, Founders College, quickly ran aground on the shoals of Ayn Randian ideology and some pretty iffy management. Since then, nothing.
October 8, 2012 - 3:43am
Sometimes the best moments at conferences come in between the official presentations.
October 4, 2012 - 10:50pm
I was advised by some well-placed people at CASE not to use the term “fundraisers.”  But I wasn’t given a preferred alternative, and nothing else seems quite right.  I refuse to use “friendraisers” on the grounds that it’s a crime against the English language, and it conjures a mental image of zombies rising from graves.  “Development officers” is politically correct, but it’s both clunky and vague.  “Advancement professionals” is even worse.  So I’ll use “fundraisers” until I hear something better.
October 3, 2012 - 11:35pm
I’m at the CASE conference in San Diego, seeing what “development” (that is, fundraising) officers at community colleges talk about when they gather.  (CASE is the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.)  It’s a national organization of development officers from all sectors of nonprofit higher ed, but this is their first conference focused specifically on community colleges.
October 2, 2012 - 9:20pm
If you read only one book about higher education this year, read The Cost Disease, by William Baumol.  It’s essential, brilliant, and even readable.  And it answers an important question – why the costs of health care and education keep going up – more intelligently than anything else I’ve seen.
October 1, 2012 - 9:11pm
A new correspondent writes: "I wondered if I could crowdsource a request for advice from a colleague trying to find a full-time academic job. She finished her PhD a little while ago and has strong references from two prominent faculty members at her graduate institution. For 6 years, she has been doing part-time teaching work at another university that has only two full-time faculty in her discipline: one she doesn't get along with at all (through no fault of her own), but the other is great and has written reference letters for her in the past. However, my colleague just saw one of these letters and it was all of two paragraphs long with nothing of substance to say."


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