Dean Dad

From Confessions of a Community College Dean, in which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990’s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

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October 21, 2012
Last week I had the chance to talk to a group of new full-time faculty. Someone in the group asked me what I considered my goal as an administrator, especially regarding faculty. It was a nifty question, and I probably should have expected it. But since the question came out of the blue, my answer did, too
October 19, 2012
The $249 chromebook is the best idea I’ve heard all week.  It seems like the chromebook is finally moving from “proof of concept” to “something actual people would actually buy.”  Finally, decent size and specs at a community college price.  This could fulfill the promise that netbooks made, but crapped out on, back in 2009.
October 17, 2012
The University of Phoenix, the largest for-profit higher education provider in the country, is closing over a hundred sites.  That’s over half of its physical locations.  Part of the move is driven by enrollment decline, and part by an increased emphasis on online course delivery. Although many in traditional higher ed may feel a certain schadenfreude, I was actually saddened by the news.  This is hardly an unalloyed good.
October 16, 2012
It’s “Bad Idea Week” over at the Chronicle.  They’ve solicited “out of the box” ideas for changing higher education.  Some of them -- hey, what if community colleges hired faculty to teach? -- are just banal.  (What, exactly, do you think we’ve been doing?)  But others are interesting failures.
October 15, 2012
Should colleges use on-campus advertising as a revenue source?
October 14, 2012
My college offers a January intersession. The idea is that students take a single class in a compressed timeframe. For the last few years, it has worked remarkably well for students who are already here. They can either make up for a slip in the Fall or start making headway on the Spring. Course completion rates have floated around the 90 percent range, since such a short timeframe doesn’t give much opportunity for life to get in the way. And anecdotal feedback from the faculty who have taught it has been glowing; they report that there’s an intensity that comes from “owning” the student entirely for a short time that lends itself well to certain types of classes.
October 11, 2012
With much of selective higher ed focused on the Supreme Court and its impending declaration on affirmative action in admissions, I’m grateful again to be at a community college.  Here, affirmative action in admissions is a non-issue; we take all comers.  We have our own legal and political challenges, heaven knows, but not that one.
October 10, 2012
Connecticut’s new centralized higher education system office has apparently been making either offers or threats -- there’s some dispute, and I have no inside information on it -- to community college presidents.  As I understand it, the legislature passed a law last year limiting remedial coursework to a single semester.  Apparently, some campuses have balked, so the system office has let the presidents know that if they feel unable to comply, they are welcome to leave.
October 9, 2012
I love this question. A new correspondent writes: "Do you (or any of your wise and worldly readers) have any advice about looking for or finding clues to a college's culture, before you actually work there?"
October 9, 2012
A few years ago, I floated the idea of an upscale proprietary. (For convenience, I called it Mercedes U.) My argument was that for-profits have, until now, focused on the lower end of the market, where they have to compete with (subsidized) community colleges. Since they can’t compete on price at the low end, I suggested, better to try on the high end. (In California, at this point, they can compete simply by being open. But in the other 49 states, the argument still stands.) The only attempt I saw, Founders College, quickly ran aground on the shoals of Ayn Randian ideology and some pretty iffy management. Since then, nothing.


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