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

July 3, 2012
Last week I had a passing conversation with a counterpart from another, more rural, part of my state. She mentioned that the big political issue on her campus is trying to get some sort of mobile broadband coverage on campus. None of the big four telecoms -- soon to become three, I’m guessing -- want to be bothered, since the population density just isn’t there, and the area isn’t terribly affluent. The students and faculty are increasingly upset, since mobile devices are all the rage now, but mobile devices without internet access are basically paperweights.
July 1, 2012
A new correspondent writes:Vitals > Ph.D., English/literature; associate professor at community college; eight months from tenure; 45 years-old Past careers > various corporate and government experience (16 years), much of it as a manager or department director. I've served as an interim administrator in a writing program.
June 28, 2012
The bloggers’ union called and threatened to revoke my card if I didn’t at least try to write something about UVA.  If nothing else, I hope the whole episode will help some folks understand the crosscurrents that academic administrators have to navigate. 
June 27, 2012
Why do those who need the most get the least? Elite universities and colleges get far more funding per student than their less elite counterparts. Community colleges, which are even less elite, get even less. And adult basic education, which serves the very most vulnerable students, gets the least of all.
June 26, 2012
Dear Selective Colleges, You know I’m a fan. I’m a proud grad of one of your number, and I’m glad to report that my community college has a strong track record of sending students your way, where they’ve done markedly well. So I’m writing this in the spirit of constructive criticism.  
June 25, 2012
This piece in IHE was painful to read. It’s about being a sacrificial lamb candidate for jobs for which the internal candidate has the inside track. The author winds up asserting that there’s simply no point in applying for jobs when there’s an internal candidate, since the fix is presumably in.
June 24, 2012
The second day of the NCPR conference struck a funny note. Many of us had noticed that the persistent theme on Thursday was “here’s a study that shows that (pick your intervention) doesn’t work.” Honestly, it was a little dispiriting.  To start Friday’s discussion, Tom Brock of the CCRC opened by acknowledging the relative bummer of the first day’s findings, but then suggesting that, tone aside, some consensus had emerged about measures that actually do work.
June 21, 2012
I spent Thursday at the “Strengthening Developmental Education” conference presented by the MDRC at Columbia University in a shockingly hot New York City.  It was an odd cluster of presentations.  On the one hand, the intellectual firepower present and the quality of evidence mustered was encouraging.  There was an honesty about findings, and a humility in the face of facts, that’s all too rare at academic conferences.  On the other, though, that meant that many of the findings suggested that much of the student success toolkit -- learning communities, summer bridge programs, and dual enrollment, to name a few -- just won’t live up to our hopes. 
June 20, 2012
A quick description of the world that appears before local sixteen year olds now: Paths to jobs that pay enough to actually want are less legible than they’ve been in generations, but to the extent that they are legible and you aren’t a standout athlete, they tend to go through college.
June 19, 2012
My college needs a “what if?” committee, but I’m not sure how to make it happen. Most of the existing committees are task-based. Curriculum committee, for example, approves or disapproves suggested changes to courses or programs. That’s a necessary function, and it’s fine as far as it goes. But it’s necessarily reactive; it responds to proposals brought to it. 


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