Thursday, July 29, 2010

I have very diverse peeps...

I started thinking about folks who I'd consider my "peeps" -- these are people who I'd call if the world fell apart for me. They'd be able to protect me, help me put things together and make sense of it all -- Hubby is the primary 'peep' and my pal Sara will always be an honorary peep, 'cuz if I find myself dead, she'll have to help me-- kind of weird, but true -- .. among the others, they are:
  • Straight and gay
  • Male and female
  • Married, single and divorced
  • Parents -- ages range from 1-22 (I think...), 3 daughters, 5 sons including one transgender f- to m... and another with special needs.
  • Ph.D, MA, BAs, AAs, and degrees from the school of hard knocks
  • More than one has been to jail.
  • Some hardly travel, others have travelled a lot
  • Some have cheated on their spouses
  • Some have been cheated on
  • At least one has been the "other" person...
  • At least one has been a stripper, more than one likes strippers...
  • two are former students, one of whom has cried in my office
  • One I've been friends with since 5th grade, another I knew in 5th grade
  • About half have been in the pool this year, and the rest should get their butts in the pool.
  • More than one has had a substance abuse problem
  • I've travelled with three of them, but I would travel with any of them
  • I've worked with four of them
  • Four knew me before I met hubby.
  • Four knew -- or knew of old boyfriend -- and all told me he wasn't right for me.
  • I tried to teach one of them to drive, and another to debate... the debate went better than the driving.
  • At least two are mildly bi-polar.
  • Three have diagnosed learning disabilities.
  • One refuses to join facebook -- all the others are facebook friends too --- some more active than others.
  • Four have seen me bald, one is bald.
  • Age range -- early 30s to late 40s.
  • Professions range from professor, to accountant to debt collector and music teacher
Really -- among my peeps -- I can't think of anything life could throw at me that we couldn't figure out... it's a good feeling.

Higher ed administration job searches...

So far, I've only done one -- but, I can see some basic things that may help others --

Inside Candidates --
  • Don't assume everyone "KNOWS" you and what you can do. Your search committee will more than likely know of you, but not necessarily know you and all of your strengths -- that's up to you to articulate.
  • When you articulate your strengths, we know you know about them and will draw on them in the future... otherwise, your strong performance so far could be a happy accident.
  • Make sure your materials AND your interview present you in your best light.
  • Prepare for the interview by having specific and achievable areas you could improve.
  • Make sure you come up with at least one question beyond "what's the timeline"?
All Candidates --
  • If the position announcement has a list of specific qualifications and desired qualifications, make sure your materials specifically and clearly address those areas. We won't take time to read into your materials -- trust me, we just won't.
  • Create and project an image of yourself -- are you the serious and thoughtful type? Are you the sort who is able to laugh at just about anything? Have that image in mind when you prepare for the interview.
  • If your degrees are 'academic' then highlight your leadership / professional development concerning higher ed administration.
  • If your terminal degree is in higher ed administration, then highlight your more academic accomplishments.
  • In terms of your job responsibilities -- if you were one of those 'one job, many hats' folks, organize the responsibilities so that they make sense in the context of a semi-manageable job. Otherwise, it seems like you are either unfocused or an extreme job-hopper... neither is something I want in a dean.
  • Acknowledge your areas for growth -- one candidate gave us great and achievable goals that would substantially improve hir effectiveness as a dean. It was attractive because s/he demonstrated that they know they have weaknesses and are willing to work on them.
  • Avoid portraying an us/them mentality toward faculty. Faculty are your team -- without them you'd be working at Borders --- and your students would be roaming the streets in clouds of Axe -- it wouldn't be pretty. Your classrooms would be empty and your FTE would be 0.
  • If you want to work in student services -- apply for those jobs.
  • If this job is a substantial move up for you, be ready to articulate what you think will be the next set of challenges -- and articulate reasons you are ready to tackle them.
  • A sense of humor is nearly as important as good communication skills.
  • Give us examples of working with all the "types" of college folks -- there are four basic "types" -- students, support staff, faculty and administration. It's key that you are able to relate to all of them without trying to be their friend.... (if you are the boss).
  • Have examples of times when you stood your ground on a decision, even when it was unpopular with the folks it impacted -- give the big picture justifications and be ready to explain how the situation worked out.
  • Have examples of times you needed to implement a decision with which you personally disagreed. This is key -- because lower level administration jobs have to do this all the time.
  • Have examples of situations where you needed to help someone improve their performance.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Investing in students..seems to pay off

Perhaps the only thing I regret about leaving debate is the continued, close connection with debaters. Thank goodness for Facebook -- which lets me keep track of some of them... I thought it was time for an update...

D2 -- graduated from his R1 -- and took a long road trip. D2's adventurous spirit demanded a trip like that. He's back home.. but, I'm not sure what he's up to.

V -- is sitting for the bar this week. He has the potential to be a good attorney, but things could also go tragically wrong..

P - went to grad school out of state for a bit -- coached for a bit -- and ended up settling back in BNstate -- He seems to be happy on his own -- which is a good thing.

D -- is in grad school at an R1, in something to do with political activism. He seems to be doing quite well. He's still in transition, or perhaps he's evolving.

C -- is the only one who's married -- and he has a child. He'll be a fantastic dad --- he's got a good, goofy sense of humor and a good set of core values. He's also ambitious and willing to take a risk -- and to risk looking like a fool.

Moonshadow -- is quite a puzzle. She's completed a degree at her R1, but now seems to spend a great deal of time travelling... most recently to Scandinavia. I think that, overall -- she's a free spirit, so who knows where she'll end up...

Kat -- is in a graduate program for clinical psych..

Rex -- last I knew, he was living in Red State managing a restaurant... didn't finish a degree and didn't stay with the debater he moved there with...

Sunshine -- died almost a year ago, in a car accident. Last year about this time she was staying with me -- taking refuge from some bad family and men... but, at the very end she met someone special -- and was on the way home to see him when she was killed.

Bex -- She's always had her life together -- at least on the surface. Now I think she's got many things lined up -- a really nice guy who adores her, an academic career path she can achieve. I'm confident she'll finish her Ph.D. from Red State U -- Which will be a great thing, since her greatest fault as a debater was the fact that she didn't trust her own instincts about arguments, so she often defaulted to P's vision of the round.

D1 -- he's the biggest change. From a student in my Intro to Phil class, who barely managed a C -- to a star debater in a super-star debate program (not mine ---), with a full debate scholarship... to a prestigious coaching fellowship at an R1 and writing a thesis on an important topic.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Describe the perfect Dean...

We're hiring a new Dean. New Dean will be the direct supervisor of our division and discipline.... For CCs, the Dean is kind of like a super-sized department chair... they have several divisions and sometimes lots of disciplines within those divisions.

I'll be working closely with this person for at least the next couple of years -- as department chair. This person will also evaluate me, take student complaints against me etc...

So -- if you were me, what are the characteristics you'd want to see New Dean?

What would you shy away from (career administrators, non-Ph.D.s, an MA is the minimum qual)?

What do you think about Ph.D.s in education, public ed administration etc? Especially if they have no teaching experience?

Saturday, July 03, 2010


... my students speak from personal experience.

Usually it's about the death of a parent, child or sibling -- other times it's about being a stripper or having a cousin get the death penalty.

When my students speak of direct experiences in war, it always gives me pause. Many of those experiences are as members of the US military -- but, it's becoming more common for students to start a sentence with, 'when I lived in ________, there was a war'.

It makes me remember that, while I have theoretical knowledge of war and a dissertation on the ethics of warfare, they've been there --- on both sides.

Friday, July 02, 2010

and... a fun committee...

I'm on a committee this summer.

It's an important committee. Yea -- it's summer, I should be writing and sunning - -and playing with the cats -- but, this is an important thing that has to happen quickly.

The fun thing is that the other faculty on the committee are fantastic. They are all experienced, solid and practical. They are also a lot of fun. I've worked on other things with these folks and all have a good sense of what should happen.

I have no idea who the administrators are --- but, the faculty folks will make it good.

Of student emergencies...

X -- has flaked on me before. S/he was an enthusiastic participant in Ethics, until s/he wasn't there anymore. S/he had told me that s/he had a complicated family life -- but, s/he thought the class was possible -- then, nothing.

Surprise, surprise -- X was in my logic class -- until s/he wasn't.

Yesterday was the final -- and, coincidentally, during the final exam X leaves a message of woe -- dead grandfathers in Africa, stolen cars and laptops -- and thus no way to come talk to me before the final -- all of this after being gone for nearly 2 weeks (a third of the class). I really don't know if I believe hir -- since s/he only called after s/he figured out that it was too late to withdraw from the class.

X has earned a D, and that's what s/he will get.

A -- has been a model student. Tuned in to lectures, never missing a class section, doing well on the work and showing improvement.

A e-mailed that s/he had missed a quiz because their spouse chose this week to reveal some really shocking secrets -- that they had been keeping for their whole relationship.

A wanted more time to take the quiz -- and A got it.