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 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.
October 2, 2012
If you read only one book about higher education this year, read The Cost Disease, by William Baumol.  It’s essential, brilliant, and even readable.  And it answers an important question – why the costs of health care and education keep going up – more intelligently than anything else I’ve seen.
October 1, 2012
A new correspondent writes: "I wondered if I could crowdsource a request for advice from a colleague trying to find a full-time academic job. She finished her PhD a little while ago and has strong references from two prominent faculty members at her graduate institution. For 6 years, she has been doing part-time teaching work at another university that has only two full-time faculty in her discipline: one she doesn't get along with at all (through no fault of her own), but the other is great and has written reference letters for her in the past. However, my colleague just saw one of these letters and it was all of two paragraphs long with nothing of substance to say."
September 30, 2012
Why do people continue to apply to, and attend, nothing-special doctoral programs in the humanities and social sciences?
September 27, 2012
A new correspondent writes: "My boss, the director of [campus office], told me in February that I was going to be promoted. A month later, the vp told me I was getting a raise. A month later, my boss asked me what I thought about being assistant director and told me to name my price. The next week, he and the vp told me I was going to be re-classified. The president has called two private meetings with me to thank me for my hard work and tell me they are looking for a place for me. The paperwork for re-classification has been slow. I turned in my final portion last week and my boss still hasn't acknowledged it. It's been 7 months."  


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