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 9, 2009 - 9:27pm
 For some reason, there's a persistent subset of people – both faculty and staff – who can't raise one issue without referencing ten more. Worse, they aren't raised in the spirit of “this connects to that,” but in a spirit of “and ANOTHER thing...” I call it the litany.
March 8, 2009 - 8:31pm
This article from the Chronicle, about spousal hiring, and this one from IHE, about administrative searches in a recession, are worth reading together. They're both about the real-world friction that gets in the way of hiring the best people for a given job.
March 5, 2009 - 9:26pm
An alert reader sent me the link to this article from the Springfield (Mass.) Republican. Apparently, the University of Massachusetts is sending out layoff notices to 60 faculty now, just in case it needs to actually go through with layoffs this Fall. If the stimulus package delivers enough, it will call some fraction of the 60 back.
March 4, 2009 - 10:11pm
How is it possible that the comforter is warm, the blanket is warm, and the sheets are freezing? The sheets are under the blanket and comforter. Shouldn't they keep the sheets warm? I'm perplexed.A few days ago, some readers called me out on my claim that the average age of cc students is dropping. Apparently some national statistics suggest otherwise. I was surprised, since all of my counterparts across the state report the exact same thing I've seen. A quick search revealed a raft of different statistics, none of which were transparent about their methodology.
March 3, 2009 - 7:51pm
 The story in the Chronicle yesterday about California paying its community colleges in IOU's got me thinking about reserves, and the conflicting roles they play.In good years, some cc's are able to salt away some money and put it into reserves. (It's also commonly called a “rainy day fund.”) The idea is that public funding is notoriously and viciously cyclical, so having a pile of stray money can minimize the damage you have to endure in down cycles. Given how much of our budget is fixed cost, there's a real logic to this.But reserves are a tricky business.
March 2, 2009 - 10:07pm
A new correspondent writes:I've been doing some reading in economics lately and started wondering about higher education. What are the incentives to do administration well? Sure, there's personal satisfaction in a job well done. But what about it more broadly? How does change work into this? Without a simple goal like profit, I'm finding it hard to get even little service changes in administration. Maybe I'm simply not understanding the incentives at play? I understand (I think) the incentives at play for faculty and students, but what about administrators?
March 1, 2009 - 8:41pm
  Dr. Crazy has a nice discussion over at her place about battles over curriculum. As she details it, her department has basically broken into two camps: the "eat your spinach" camp and the "let them take what they want" camp. I'm quite taken with the metaphor.
February 26, 2009 - 9:08pm
 The Girl is four, with big innocent eyes and a smile that could melt the Grinch. She also has juuust a little vinegar in her, which we kind of encourage. Yesterday with TW, as the radio played the “Hits of the 80's Lunch Hour”: TG: He doesn't just want you to whip it, he wants you to whip it GOOD!I'm not ready for this...
February 25, 2009 - 8:51pm
Several alert readers sent me links to this story in the New York Times. The headline -- “In Tough Times, Humanities Must Justify Their Worth” -- pretty much captures the tale. It's yet another decline narrative, lamenting the loss of respect for the classics, for a time in which young people sought truth and meaning and appreciated the ineffable blah blah blah.You can fill in the rest.As with so many Times stories, it goes off the rails in the last few paragraphs.
February 25, 2009 - 4:32am
 

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