Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The Dog that Didn't Bark

Mid-April to Mid-May is always the hardest time of year. All of the end-of-year stuff comes to a head at this point. The students are stressed about papers/projects/finals, and the faculty are in grading jail. This is when my evenings fill at an alarming rate, with various 'culmination' events and ceremonies. With the clock ticking on the semester, anything that requires faculty involvement (i.e. program reviews, faculty hires) has to happen now.

Which is to say, I'm wiped. That's normal for this time of year.

In a discussion commiserating with a colleague who is also up against it, I realized that this year's greatest achievement is something that didn't happen.

In the context of the largest single-year funding cut in the college's history, and the largest single-year enrollment jump in the college's history, here's what happened:

- the course completion rate held steady this Fall

- several strong new programs were developed

- labor relations remained positive

- we hired a few new full-time faculty

- we continued to improve shared governance

- the culture continued to shift, slowly, in a positive direction

- nobody flipped out

Going into this year, I thought this would be the big one. For a while there, I was honestly concerned that something was going to either fall apart or explode. I'm not ordinarily given to drama, but when you're caught in a pincer move as severe as this year's, it's fair to wonder just how you'll get through.

Instead, the college got through without catastrophe. Layoffs were minimal, and confined to administration. We actually hired some faculty. And the largest student cohort in history did remarkably well, all things considered.

Some victories are conspicuous and easily explained. This year, the victory was the dog that didn't bark. Very few will notice the victory, but it's real. In an environment as straitened as this one, that's what victory looks like.

I'll take it.

"Can I hear an Amen?"

Preach it, brother!

Well done all who kept their focus and held the line.

Breathing a sigh of relief down here, too.
Well said. We have something to celebrate.
Can you tell me more about your ideas and strategies for shared governance? I think I will be asked about it in an upcoming job interview. I have my ideas, but am interested in hearing from you.
How great - to be able to reflect, if only for a moment, on real accomplishments. Continuing that there anything here that can be bottled and used next year? Were there approaches, leadership styles, governance processes, etc. that led to a good year?
Wish I could say the same about our CC. It has been another horrible year and when the stimulus money runs out next year, it's supposed to be "catastrophic." I laughed when I read the posted request about "shared governance." Our admin has no intention of doing any of this.
I am glad that some CCs had a pretty good year, despite economic travails. Still, to view, "the wheels didn't come off" as a victory strikes me that we are headed down the slippery slope of diminished expectations.

We too had an OK year, and our main accomplishment would be that we managed to serve 15% more students with 10% less in our State allocation. I fear, however, that the message that we and others are sending out is, "Yes! We can do More with Less!" As long as we continue to 'manage', then there will be no incentive for our respective legislatures to restore any of the budget cuts that we have all experienced.

Having the wheels come off (or at least wobble severely) might not be such a bad thing.
Dean Dad, I rather think you'll like this faux-powerpoint of the Gettysburg Address:
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