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.

December 1, 2010 - 9:19pm
An occasional correspondent writes:I have been offered a course at a reduced rate because the enrollment is not 100%. My objections to this go beyond mere self interest (I think). Here are some potential issues:#1: Instructors have little control over enrollment, but do have some. For example how many students pass a 100 level course has a direct impact on how many students move on to a 200 level course we might teach. If our rate is based on warm bodies might not an instructor be tempted to pass students just to increase enrollment in a higher level course?
December 1, 2010 - 4:21am
It’s been a while since I’ve done a “how to get the job” piece. Judging by a recent flurry of emails on the subject, it looks like the time is right for a new one.If you’re applying for a full-time faculty job, you can assume that the folks who read your cover letter will be academics. For all their quirks, academics tend to be pretty good readers. That means that your cover letter will actually get read closely, probably several times. Craft counts.Please don’t open with “My name is...” We’ll figure it out when we get to the signature line.
November 29, 2010 - 9:45pm
A few years ago my college tried one of those ideas that makes sense on paper, but that crashed and burned in the real world. I was reminded of that today in discussing a proposal that would have repeated the same mistake.
November 29, 2010 - 4:36am
Over the break I finally had a chance to read Higher Education?, by Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus. It was yet another in a long line of pieces that purport -- at least in title -- to address higher education generally, but that assume a daily reality that simply excludes community colleges. (At least Hacker and Dreifus had the good grace to admit it.) Suffice it to say that it seemed to mean well, but was so scattered in its presentation that I was just left shrugging.
November 23, 2010 - 8:44pm
“Why them and not us?”Managing the different impacts of microbenefits is a surprisingly large part of my job. I’m still getting used to it, and still shaking off disbelief at some of the issues people will choose to fight about. This week brought that home to me yet again.
November 22, 2010 - 9:31pm
Anecdotally, it looks like the new Higher Education Act is doing a number on college bookstores, and on bookstores in college towns.
November 21, 2010 - 6:54pm
This weekend The Girl got hit by a nasty stomach bug, so nobody got much sleep and our Sunday plans were discombobulated. It brought back memories of those times when TW still worked outside the house, and we had to do the Sick Kid Shuffle.When your kid normally goes to daycare, a sick kid is a major crisis. Suddenly your first line of defense is down, since you can’t take a sick kid to daycare. (I’ve seen parents try it, though.) Most days, we had to choose among several imperfect options:
November 18, 2010 - 9:14pm
Since Thanksgiving is next week, nobody wants to have meetings next week. That means that this week was doubled up.On Tuesday I had 8 meetings. On Wednesday, 6. Yesterday, 7.By the end of yesterday, I’ll admit getting a little punchy. That’s dangerous, because punchiness leads to snark, which leads to drama.I’m pretty sure there’s something in the Geneva Convention maxing out daily meetings at 6.
November 17, 2010 - 9:55pm
In a discussion last week, I realized that the common denominator to so many of my personal hobbyhorses is fatigue with the climate of permanent austerity that seems to have settled upon public higher education.Off the top of my head, I can come up with several reasons why we seem to be stuck in permanent austerity mode..First, there's the basic open-endedness of mission. How much education is enough? How many programs should we run? How small should we let sections get? Which services should we provide? Whose salaries are too low?
November 16, 2010 - 10:10pm
Academic administrators get tired of hearing the “cross over to the dark side” line. It’s tired, it’s arrogant, and it picks the wrong villain. Darth Vader isn’t the real villain; Mini-me is.Fans of cheesy-bad movies will remember Mini-me as Dr. Evil’s sidekick/mascot in the Austin Powers movies. Dr. Evil had his share of great lines (“the Diet Coke of evil”), but his true awfulness shone forth in his creation of Mini-Me. Mini-me was exactly how he sounds -- a smaller, but recognizable, version of Dr. Evil himself.

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