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 2, 2011 - 11:03pm
Having entirely too much plane time to think it over, a couple of ideas from the League conference have stuck in my craw.They're both examples of basically good ideas – or at least well-intended ones – gone horribly wrong. The snowballing process is remarkably hard to stop.The first is the gradual accretion of levels of remediation at community colleges. I'll address that one in a subsequent post of its own.The second is rampant “reserves” growth at California community colleges.
March 1, 2011 - 10:02pm
The theme today seemed to be generational change, but in a good way; instead of the hand-wringing about leadership crises that I heard two years ago, this time there was much more of a sense of embracing new possibilities. Granted, those possibilities are emerging against a crippling economic backdrop, but hell, we Gen X’ers know all about that. If anyone can handle it, we can.Day 3 highlights:
March 1, 2011 - 4:39am
Dear reader, I attended six presentations at the League for Innovation conference yesterday, so you didn’t have to. The highlight reel:-- Abstract flow charts have to go. I honestly don’t understand what people think they achieve. “Culture” arrow to “Behavior” arrow to “Beliefs” arrow to “Culture.” To me, it just looks like a flashing neon sign that says I HAVE NOTHING TO SAY.
February 28, 2011 - 3:58am
(Filed from the conference of The League for Innovation in the Community College, in a surprisingly chilly San Diego.)
February 23, 2011 - 10:09pm
(Or, why I can send an English professor to a math conference, but I can't send a math professor to a math conference.)Earlier this week, I mentioned an interaction with the campus Money Guy that strained the limits of absurdity. In fairness, I should mention that sometimes I have to be the apparatchik, too.
February 22, 2011 - 10:27pm
Historiann has a fascinating, and I think largely representative, take on a provocative article in the Washington Post about “fixing” higher education. The original piece outlines eight steps that it argues would make meaningful differences for colleges and universities in the US.
February 21, 2011 - 9:08pm
The outside world takes it for granted that colleges, particularly community colleges, should develop curricula to match the needs of employers.The higher ed world takes it for granted that curriculum belongs to the faculty.Deans are in the delightful position of trying to navigate between those two. The frustrating truth is that they’re both partly right, but both lean toward absolutism.
February 20, 2011 - 9:10pm
This actually happened. Probably due to something in the water, we’ve had an outbreak of pregnancies on campus over the past year. In every case, we’ve had to pay replacements to pick up either the classes or the hours of the woman who went out on leave. There’s a budget line for substitutes, but we’ve already blown well past it for the academic year, and it’s only February.The college budget hawk, whom I will simply call Money Guy (MG), dropped by my office to express his concern. This is the actual, I-am-not-making-this-up conversation.
February 17, 2011 - 10:17pm
Fresh off a glorious Super Bowl victory, the state of Wisconsin is apparently looking at rescinding collective bargaining rights for college and university faculty and professional staff. (At this point, only the Democrats’ hiding ability seems to be stopping it. There’s a metaphor in there somewhere...) For blue-collar workers, as I understand it, it’s looking at restricting the range of collective bargaining to base wages; benefits, working conditions, workloads, and procedures would be off the table.
February 16, 2011 - 9:53pm
This confession is really awful for an academic administrator, but it’s true. My brain has run out of space for new acronyms.Acronym proliferation is out of control. It comes from many sources.The most obvious is grant-funded programs. For whatever reason, a few decades ago someone decided that every grant-funded program needed a clever, upbeat acronym. As with many awful ideas, it was probably harmless enough at first. But the good ones went fast, and now each new iteration of a program needs its own spiffy new term.

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