Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Well, here goes...
Confessions of a Community College Administrator will be published in January -- you can read about it, and even pre-order it, here. Jossey-Bass is publishing it as part of the Inside Higher Ed series, with a gracious foreward by Kay McClenney. I hope that it’ll be useful for people who want to understand the on-the-ground reality of community colleges, whether because they’re future administrators, trustees, or interested citizens. It’s particularly aimed at the rising/next generation of community college administrators.
With the book officially revealed, it’s time to drop the pseudonym. I don’t want the book discredited by the anonymity of its author, and I’m enough of a realist to know that someone would spill the beans quickly anyway, just to prove that they could.
My name is Matt Reed, and I’m the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Holyoke Community College in Holyoke, Massachusetts. I’ve been at HCC since 2008. When I started the blog, though, its title was accurate; back then, I was the liberal arts dean at the County College of Morris in Randolph, New Jersey.
The Boy and The Girl will keep their anonymity, on the grounds that when they grow up, I don’t want the first results of employer’s internet searches to be cute stories I wrote about them in elementary school. Their real names are their own to define as they see fit; “TB” and “TG” will indicate their presence without saddling them with too much baggage. The Wife requested to keep her anonymity, too, on the grounds that she’s known for her own achievements. So longtime readers don’t need to worry about The Wife, The Boy, or The Girl suddenly becoming new names.
With my own name out there, I hope to be able to participate more fully in the public conversation about higher education and its future. Participating in conferences and public discussions is tough while trying to maintain a pseudonym. Addressing a conference by speakerphone is pretty limiting -- Scott Jaschik actually arranged that for me once; I felt a little like Charlie, from Charlie’s Angels -- and Groucho glasses just aren’t dignified. The first major public event scheduled is a panel with Scott and some fellow IHE bloggers at the MLA conference in Boston in January; I hope many more will follow.
The other side, of course, is my own campus. I’ve been careful over the years not to put anything salacious or confidential in the blog, so I’m not worried about that. It should be clear by now that my focus is structure and policy, rather than some variation on “Otto is a real douchebag.” My interest is in improving public higher education, which I think requires some difficult and candid discussion.
Obviously, some people who disagree with something I wrote may decide to shoot the messenger. I hope that disagreement won’t lead to anything worse than disagreement, but there’s always a risk. (Back when I started, I lived in terror of being “Dooced.”) At the end of the day, though, I don’t control what other people do. I have faith in my longtime readers to know what I’ve been trying to do, and will continue to try to do. I have faith in my colleagues to understand that academic freedom needs to be reciprocated. The rest will happen as it happens.
Enough about me. Tomorrow, and onward, I’ll get back to the subject I love, writing for - and with - the kind of readers that most writers would kill to have. Nice to meet you.