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 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
 
February 23, 2009 - 9:04pm
The indefatigable Lesboprof has a great post up about a couple of legislators from Georgia who are using the economic crunch as an excuse to launch a purge of feminists, gays, and anyone whose politics or lifestyle they consider "special interest areas" from public colleges and universities. And it isn't just points of view they're out to silence; apparently, they've going after entire subject areas.
February 23, 2009 - 3:38am
As the year has become progressively more surreal, I've been finding much more value in the occasional meetings I have with my counterparts at nearby cc's.
February 19, 2009 - 10:13pm
Academic administrators aren't the only administrators on a campus. We routinely interact with the folks who run the business side (payroll, facilities, security), the IT side, fundraising, and the like. I've had several conversations with administrative colleagues lately that have gone something like this:Other Admin: I had the budget talk with my group. It was rough, but we got through it. How did yours go?DD: We're getting there.OA: Getting there?

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