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

September 9, 2012
If credits are available for free, what will colleges sell?
September 6, 2012
This year, for the first time, we made new student orientation mandatory. By “mandatory,” I mean that a new student who doesn’t attend any of the orientation sessions would get his schedule dropped.  (Obviously, we had to run a whole bunch of sessions on different days and times, so we did.) People on campus keep commenting on how unusually smooth the first few days of class have been.
September 5, 2012
As regular readers know, I’ve carried on a bit of a crusade against the credit hour for a while now. The credit hour is a time-based measure that essentially forces colleges to measure outputs entirely in terms of inputs, thereby defeating any productivity gain. Combine that with Baumol’s cost disease -- by which sectors whose productivity rises more slowly than the average are doomed to higher real costs over time -- and higher education is in a tough spot.
September 4, 2012
A few months ago, Dahlia Lithwick had a charming piece in Slate about two kinds of Muppets: Order Muppets and Chaos Muppets.  She suggested that most people fall into one of the two camps.  The Order Muppets -- Kermit, Bert, Scooter, Sam the Eagle -- are concerned with keeping the show running.  The Chaos Muppets -- Cookie Monster, Ernie, Gonzo, Animal -- are a bit more, well, demonstrative.  They bring energy, and entropy.
September 3, 2012
This year, for the first time since leaving grad school, I’d love to hear students on campus seriously discuss the election outside of class.
August 23, 2012
Richard Florida and Bill Bishop, in their different ways, have pointed out the increased geographic clustering of the educated/creative classes.  Broadly speaking, the creative classes tend to cluster in urban areas near oceans, leaving the vast middle “hollowing out,” as Richard Longworth put it.
August 22, 2012
How do you sell the idea of liberal arts to an 18 year old? Admittedly, the question scans differently at different institutions.  At the snooty/exclusive liberal arts colleges, the sale has already been made.  At a community college in a non-affluent area -- my beat -- the issue is a little trickier.
August 21, 2012
I spend a fairly alarming amount of my time these days on grant-related projects. Each is worthy in its own way, of course, but they have certain limitations in common.
August 20, 2012
This one is particularly for the experienced adjuncts, especially those who frequently teach in multiple settings. What materials do you find the most useful, when you get a class at a new department?
August 19, 2012
A new correspondent writes: "I'm curious as to how you define 'college ready,' and if you think students come to college really ready or if there are other thing that we could do in the trenches to help them."

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