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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Most Recent Articles

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.
October 8, 2012
Sometimes the best moments at conferences come in between the official presentations.
October 4, 2012
I was advised by some well-placed people at CASE not to use the term “fundraisers.”  But I wasn’t given a preferred alternative, and nothing else seems quite right.  I refuse to use “friendraisers” on the grounds that it’s a crime against the English language, and it conjures a mental image of zombies rising from graves.  “Development officers” is politically correct, but it’s both clunky and vague.  “Advancement professionals” is even worse.  So I’ll use “fundraisers” until I hear something better.
October 3, 2012
I’m at the CASE conference in San Diego, seeing what “development” (that is, fundraising) officers at community colleges talk about when they gather.  (CASE is the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.)  It’s a national organization of development officers from all sectors of nonprofit higher ed, but this is their first conference focused specifically on community colleges.


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