Thursday, July 23, 2015

 

Friday Fragments


This may be the loveliest sentence I’ve read in years.  Thanks to Mary-Kim Arnold for highlighting it.

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This piece on succession planning in higher education occasioned some snark on Twitter, but it has its merits.  Briefly, it argues that a paucity of good candidates for advancement within colleges and universities speaks badly of higher ed’s personnel practices.  

I’d add that the taboo against “crossing over to the dark side” is stronger in this industry than in most.  When actors say they really want to direct, nobody blinks.  But for an early-career professor to declare an intention to become a dean would be considered odd in most places.

It shouldn’t be.  Having folks in these roles who understand the reality of teaching makes a difference.  The core of the administrative role is working to create the environment -- within the myriad of constraints that can’t be wished away -- in which the best teaching and learning can happen.  Having a practitioner’s sense of teaching and learning to inform decisions can only help .

The other variable, of course, is the trend towards adjunctification of the faculty.  To the extent that future administrators come from the full-time faculty, hollowing out the full-time faculty will have predictable effects farther on down the pipeline over time.  It’s possible to hire deans from the ranks of the adjuncts -- I did it once at Holyoke -- but it’s still unusual.  

For any early-career faculty considering a move, I can recommend a pretty good book...

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The family is still in Massachusetts; I’m doing weekdays in NJ and driving back on weekends until the big move.  

It’s a kind of flashback to grad school.  My room here has a little kitchen, so I’m doing the kind of cooking I did as a grad student.  I’m writing every night -- again like grad school -- but getting up much earlier.  

It was fun for the first day.  But I’ll be really, really glad when the band is back together.  

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