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.

May 26, 2009 - 10:13pm
Last week, IHE had a story about a conference dedicated to addressing the relatively low rate of college attendance by men. Apparently, suggestions from the conference included gender identity workshops run by Student Life. And the comments to the article quickly became rants against gender studies, liberal academics, and the dangers of perverting the Timeless Truths.Uh, no.
May 25, 2009 - 10:10pm
I've had variations on this conversation several times recently.Professor: There's option A and option B, and I guess technically there's option C. This clique wants A and that clique wants B. What do you think we should do?DD: I really don't care, as long as the decision process is valid.Professor: But what if they choose C?DD: Then they choose C.Professor: But C is terrible!DD: Could be. But if they need to discover that for themselves, so be it.
May 22, 2009 - 4:40am
Both of these stories make sense on their own terms. But taken together, they neatly capture the basic dilemma in my world.
May 20, 2009 - 8:48pm
Twice in the last month, I've been in meetings at which somebody suggested that the solution to some ongoing dilemma was to use “the platinum rule.” As it was explained to me, the platinum rule is understood in contrast to the golden rule. The golden rule is to do unto others as you'd have them do unto you; the platinum rule is to do unto others as they'd want done unto them. In other words, reject reciprocity as an ideal, in favor of something like empathy.
May 20, 2009 - 4:39am
In response to yesterday's post, several commenters asked variations on "well, okay, but what if the dean is a jackass? What then?" It's a fair question.
May 18, 2009 - 9:43pm
If you haven't yet seen Tenured Radical's wonderful post on how to think like an administrator, check it out. Most of it seems like common sense, but for some reason, it isn't.(I'm especially taken with her friend's memoir, entitled I Am Outraged That!. It's probably possible to come up with a less productive posture than moral indignation, but it would take work.)
May 17, 2009 - 8:23pm
(Readers with pronounced visceral objections to suburbia might want to skip this post.)
May 14, 2009 - 9:16pm
Yesterday's IHE had an article about faculty and staff morale during budget cuts. It's worth reading, but the comments are even more so. They're a pretty good microcosm of what can happen in the absence of trust.
May 14, 2009 - 4:36am
Dear Students,Thanks for all your hard work, sacrifice, and tuition. In appreciation of all you've done, we'll allow you to bring any three people you like to graduation. If your circle of family and friends is bigger than that, tough cookies.Love,CollegeSomehow, this just seems wrong to me.
May 12, 2009 - 10:02pm
TB came home today excited to invite me to speak to his class for career week.I'm not exactly sure how to explain academic administration to second graders.“Well, I go to a lot of meetings, and I try to get grownups to play nicely and share their toys.”Somehow, I don't see that one capturing the room.


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