Category Archives: administrators

February 2, 2012, 12:10 pm

Yale Could Just Say No to Covering Up Rape

In 1976, Yale women rowers drew dramatic attention to sexism on campus.

What do top university administrators really talk about when they talk about rape with no one else in the room? Maybe someone will comment on this post and tell me. I’ve always wanted to know because every time I am in a meeting about sexual assault I get so much smoke blown up my posterior that I leave the room floating upside down.

My curiosity about this has been piqued even further because Yale University, my alma mater and the object of a Title IX investigation, recently released its stats on sex crimes for the last six months and has announced that it is sobered by the news. As the Oldest College Daily reports: “’The number and scope of complaints make it abundantly clear that there is more that we must do as a community…

Read More

January 30, 2012, 7:26 pm

Oooooooh Nooooooooo! Vassar Lays a Big Admissions Egg

One of the ways that colleges and universities have adapted to the stress that they are responsible for creating among applicants is by making information about acceptance and rejection available over the Internet.  This, of course, would be better than watching the mailbox for the envelope that is fat or thin, because for several days the applicant would know that the decision had been made but be burdened with the rage and anxiety that s/he did not know what the decision was.

For those of you who were moose hunting with Sarah Palin and her family over the weekend and missed the news, imagine the surprise of early decision applicants at Vassar who first learned over the Internet that they had been accepted (yay!) and an hour later discovered that they had not been accepted (wahhhh!) As the New York Times reported it on January 28, Vassar is describing this mistake in the passive…

Read More

April 12, 2011, 11:38 am

Give Me A T For Texas: Tuesday Tenure Report

Another take on the path towards tenure

Where, oh where, has the Radical been?  Well, many places, but the most recent impediment to posting has been the end of honors thesis season, which requires time-consuming, line-by-line scrutiny of all outgoing chapters.  But by today, the little birds will have flown the coop once and for all and I am once again left to my feckless ways.  A good scrounge through my Google reader shows that others have been busy out there, however, so with out further ado:

Just in Case You Were Curious:  According to the campus newspaper, the Trinitonian, Trinity University of San Antonio Texas is making the institutional case for tenure.  In an article that does a good job of explaining to students what tenure is and how faculty achieve it, Michael Fischer, vice president of Academic Affairs, “There are very good historical reasons for tenure and particularly in …

Read More

June 16, 2010, 2:11 pm

Why Can’t We Get Anything Done? How To Run An Effective Meeting

No one likes going to meetings. But admit it: you dread some meetings more than others, don’t you? And if you hate all meetings, academia might not be the career for you. As chair of a major Zenith university committee some years back, one week I was tearing my hair out because I was scheduled up to the eyeballs with meetings. “How the Hades do administrators ever get any work done if they are in fracking meetings all the time?” I railed at my companion, a former dean, as I pulled on a clean black tee shirt to greet that day’s scheduling marathon in high style.
“That’s how administrators do their work,” she replied patiently, reaching for the Arts section of the New York Times. “They are doing their work in meetings.” I was gobsmacked. Of course that was right. So maybe it wasn’t the meetings themselves that were the problem — it was the question of making — and marking — the…

Read More

January 14, 2010, 2:50 pm

Playing The Blame Game: Or; How Should Graduate Schools Respond To The Bad Job Market?

Over at ConfessionsOf A Community College Dean your favorite administrator and mine, Dean Dad, asks: “Why do people still go to grad school in the liberal arts?”

Good question. Although I have no former undergraduates making the leap into a Ph.D. program this year, the bigger picture is quite different. As Dean Dad notes, “the adjunct trend is so well-established at this point, and the economic irrationality of grad school so screamingly obvious, that it’s fair to wonder why many departments are actually experiencing record applications.” While he explores various irrational explanations — love for learning, self-delusion, and hiding out until the recession is over — there is, he argues, some rationality to the choice:

academia still offers a surface legibility. Yes, the odds are daunting, but good students have spent years rising to the top of academic competitions. There’s still a…

Read More

November 6, 2009, 1:10 am

And If You Give Us A Full Book Of Green Stamps, You Can Teach Macroeconomics

These noble bloggers provided the second notification of the evening that Patricia Turner, vice provost for the University of California Office of Undergraduate Studies (and henchman Winder McConnell, the director of teaching resources for that floundering institution) have a great new idea: get people to teach for free. The first time I saw this news on Facebook I wouldn’t have believed it, except that the source was impeccable. According to the online edition of The California Aggie, freshman seminar instructors all received a letter asking them whether they would be willing to forgo the small sum they are paid for this work, $1500-2000 that is normally deposited in their research accounts. “Though Turner could not predict how much money the salary reduction would save,” staff writer Lauren Steussy reports, “she stated that approximately 25 instructors agreed to forgo or reduce…

Read More

May 14, 2009, 12:52 pm

If You Try Sometimes, You’ll Get What You Need: How To Think Like An Administrator

Gary Olson’s recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education, hilariously titled “How To Join The Dark Side” (hence my choice for an illustration) is a useful take on how to think about becoming a university administrator. What I like best about it is that it avoids a common stereotype (administrators are failed academics, or worse, not intellectually inclined at all when lacking a Ph.D.) and takes university administration seriously as a career that intelligent people train for and enjoy. Furthermore (and this is the kind of thing no one talks about in academia) it suggests that an academic career might entail several stages, in which one’s life could be plotted as ambitiously as a Jane Austen novel. A career might begin with the majority of one’s efforts devoted to establishing one’s credentials as a scholar and a teacher, really learning those jobs inside and out as well as…

Read More

April 21, 2009, 2:57 pm

How Many Administrators Does It Take To File A Department Of Education Report?

Two. One to file the report, one to respond the barrage of stupid newspaper articles written about the report after the data is crunched by a non-profit conservative think tank.

This half-assed joke is a response to an article by Tamar Lewin in today’s New York Times that ran under the headline “Staff Jobs On Campus Outpace Enrollment.” The data, taken from Department of Education reports filed by 2,782 colleges and analyzed by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, shows that public and private colleges have about the same ratio of staff to student (8 and 9 per 100, respectively) and have bloated at about the same rate since 1987. Lewin writes,

In the 20-year period, the report found, the greatest number of jobs added, more than 630,000, were instructors — but three-quarters of those were part-time. Converted to full-time equivalents, those resulted in a total of 939,…

Read More

April 4, 2009, 8:10 pm

The College Catalogue Goes Bye-Bye: Harvard Catches Up With Zenith At Last

Why does John Harvard look so depressed and defeated? Is it the endowment? Is it the quality of the entering class? No! It’s the death of the course catalogue as we know it.

Following the Harvard Crimson, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Harvard University has eliminated printed course catalogues, faculty and student handbooks, and something called the “Q-Guide,” in favor of on-line versions of all these documents. The “Q-Guide,” which publishes summaries of teaching evaluations, is undoubtedly a grisly publication full of accurate, witty and devastating humor about our colleagues who work at an institution commonly known as the Northern Zenith. I am sure the Harvard faculty are glad to see the back of that one, Mary.

The move to web-based publishing is budgetary to be sure, but one administrator points out that the course catalogue will now be much more accurate than…

Read More

December 13, 2008, 6:32 pm

And Here’s A Little Coal In Your Christmas Stocking: Tenure Denied

The tenure cases that were submitted early in the fall are starting to come through: mostly, there will be laughter and clinking glasses. Although rates of success differ across institutions, the majority of people who come up for tenure will get it. The vast majority. Which makes it ever more painful when you, or someone you have supported, is denied. This just in from a professor of history at Wuzzup College:*

I teach at a four-year college. Yesterday I found out that my only untenured colleague was turned down for tenure by the dean. I’m spending my morning trying to figure out what to do to see if we can get this overturned. I called the one colleague I know to whom the administration sometimes listens and left a frantic message on his answering machine.

I was afraid this was going to happen. I was on the Tenure and Promotion Committee, which has been weird the last couple…

Read More