Thursday, January 29, 2015

Friday Fragments

I read once that the sign of a great mind is the ability to hold contradictory ideas at the same time.  By that standard, community college administrations these days are filled with great minds.

Over the last few weeks, the president of the United States has extolled the virtues of community colleges, and spoken prominently of massive increases in Federal support.  And whenever I listen to Marketplace, I hear that the economy is roaring back.

And yet, on campus, money is getting even tighter.

Part of that is the difference between political oratory and actual budgets.  Part of it is the difficult combination of countercyclical enrollments -- when the economy goes up, enrollments go down -- with cost-shifting.  The state shifted the funding burden to students; when the students start to go away, they take the funding with them.  And part of it is longer-term trends of which I may have written once or twice.

Rhetorical support from the president of the United States for a massive influx of money is great.  But at this point, I’d happily take enough help just to forestall cuts.


One administrator to another, I tip my cap to Adam Scales at the Rutgers law school.  He’s the dean who called out students for writing about female professors’ fashion choices on their course evaluations.

Climate-setting is a crucial, if often overlooked, part of administration.  Taking a moment to make a conscious, public statement about treating people with respect is admirable.  Well done, Dean Scales.  


Last week, I discovered Belt magazine.  (  I‘m officially irked that I wasn’t notified of it sooner.  It’s extraordinary.

It’s about Rust Belt cities, and the history, politics, and culture there.  

Having grown up in Rochester, I know well the complicated emotions that attach to smaller cities.  The political discourse around millenials and urbanism assumes that every city is Brooklyn.  But most of them aren’t.  Yes, New York City is huge.  But when you add up the Rochesters, Syracuses, Clevelands, Pittsburghs, and similar cities of the Great Lakes region, you’re talking about a whole lot of people.  And those people get overlooked culturally.

The new urbanism is actually confined to a relatively few places.  Boston and New York may be enjoying boom times, but Syracuse and Toledo really aren’t.  That’s still new enough to strike me as noteworthy.  

Contrary to stereotype, those smaller cities have some very real charms.  But the only people who seem to know that are the ones who actually live there.

As a Rochester expat who currently lives outside Springfield, Massachusetts, I can attest that Belt gets a lot right.  It’s refreshing.


The Girl inherited the blogging gene.  She has started a blog of her own, in which she selects and captions cute animal pics.  Check it out, but please be kind.  

The random duck is my favorite.