Collegial Consent for Spirit Lifting Only

Michael Heathfield, the one and only Michael Heathfield, sent  the following to me with a request to post it in order to gather input from anyone willing to offer some, and I am only too happy to, belatedly, oblige in the hopes of seeing a good old-fashioned, English style cod-walloping gobsmack of a rant with a bunch of words I’ve never seen in that particular order (or at all)! And so, here you go. Help the man out:

My birthday has passed and my delusion that I was going to gracefully glide towards retirement has gone. I have a stack of grading at my side, some of the best students ever, a poor old dog who will not be with us much longer, and a fast approaching publisher deadline. I have long subscribed to the belief that humor in the face of adversity is a much-needed skill. So I am going to practice it…

My survival strategy (meaning avoidance) is to ask my unbelievably stellar HWC compadres which distracting activity would lift our communal spirits more? I have the urge to write a small piece for the Harold Lounge but I am not sure quite where to start or where to go. Those of you who know me will understand this is why I don’t drive.

I have a tempting palate of posting possibilities but have been told by colleagues, too many times, to cut the words and focus. So I want to enlist your support and guidance as to which one should actually exist (cue catalogue floating out of view). Dave is brilliant at handling the technology of electronic voting, so I trust he can help in this respect. Here are my imaginary posting headlines as I seek democratic community consent as to which one should exist in our realities:

I invented seven to symbolically represent the individually accredited institutions that make up our system and then added one for District. I never said I wasn’t clever! Molly Turner will no doubt explore with me my overuse of the exclamation mark when I try to slip into journalistic mode!

Please join me in my spiritually uplifting task and take a little time to vote. Let’s hope we can have a turnout over 35%! I promise to get Dave to post the winning article before the end of the year when, regardless of the consequences, a Mexican margarita has my name on it. Again. Again.

Mike Heathfield

More on Technology: Campus Gossip

I thought this was a really interesting story about the intersection of people, places, anonymity, commerce, and reputation (coin of the realm!).

It would make a great play, I think.

HERE’s the article; here’s a snippet:

Matt Ivester became notorious on campuses across the country in 2007 for publishing gossip­—not about celebrities but about students—on Juicy-Campus, the Web site he created. The site was blocked by some colleges, banned by several student governments, and threatened with legal action by several students who claimed that defaming comments on the site had inflicted emotional damage.

Now, in an ironic twist, the young man who stubbornly hosted reputation-harming comments on a Web site despite student complaints is looking to reinvent himself as an adviser to help students clean up their online reputations.


Leadership Reading

Just in case you’re out there looking for some reading on leadership–maybe you’re thinking about running for chair next year, or applying for a Deanship, or maybe you’re a new muckety muck of some sort or other , I’ve run across a couple of things in the last few weeks that might be interesting:

~This one is about how leaders can avoid bad advice–it’s written for President’s but it’s true, from my experience, for Chairs as well as anybody who leads anybody in any regard (as a bonus, there’s some quality advice in the comments, too);

~And this is a list of books on leadership put together by some people from The Washington Post. The only one I can say anything knowledgeable about is the one by Joseph Badarocco, who teaches Business Ethics at Harvard. I’ve read some of his other stuff and found it to be interesting and well done. I don’t know the book listed, but I’d venture to guess that it isn’t terrible. If anyone has read any of the others, please put something in the comments.

More on 2011 Commencement Ceremonies

In case you were wonderin’ what to do on that District-Wide Commencement Wednesday with your classes AND those Final Exams…

Per CCC email (cut-and-paste):


March 8, 2011

Re: Spring 2011 Commencement Ceremony Participation

Dear Faculty:

As you know, for the first time in recent City Colleges of Chicago history, all seven City Colleges will come together to honor our Associate degree completers at a district-wide spring commencement ceremony.   

The ceremony will take place on:

Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 6:00 p.m.

University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion

525 S. Racine Ave., Chicago, IL

(Overflow accommodations at the UIC Forum, 725 West Roosevelt Road)

All full-time faculty are required to attend the commencement ceremony. This is a ticketed event, and graduation regalia is required for all ceremony participants. You must confirm attendance and place your order for graduation regalia with your College Registrar.  Please confirm your participation and order your graduation regalia no later than Friday, March 11, 2011.

If you have a final exam scheduled for Wednesday evening, and you have students participating in commencement, please reschedule the final exam to allow students who are graduating to participate in the ceremony.

If you have a final exam scheduled for Wednesday evening, and do not have students participating in commencement, you are excused from commencement so the exam can be given as originally scheduled. 

All other full-time faculty are required to attend commencement.

We appreciate your commitment to our students and your willingness to share in this special celebration of our graduates.  If you have any questions regarding commencement ceremony participation, please email Dr. Vernese Edghill-Walden at


Angela Henderson


TKP – Lounge-iversary Edition

So, one year later…

What are your thoughts regarding The Lounge? Is it workin’ for ya?
Is there anything you’d change? Anything you’d leave the same?

Update: As you can see, after that interview with PhiloDave, I fell asleep on the El as if it were a blizzard-bound bus on Lake Shore Drive. My apologies. Y’all saw this post get created, sos you’ve had a chance to ponder the questions. If I know PhiloDave the teacher, he takes assessment very seriously. Give him some feedback.

Roses are red, violets are blue
If you’ve got a thought
Let’s hear it from you

(I can’t believe there were no takers on that poem earlier this week. Oh, well…)

Year in review: Lounge-iversary style

Alrighty peeps,

I was going to sift through the mounds of “cognitive surplus” (thanks Carrie!) to determine which post received the most views and which one had the most replies. However, due to time constraints, I will simply modify this post and ask the following:

Over the past year that you’ve visited The Lounge, what was the best post for you? Maybe you don’t gots a best post, so what was the best reply you read? Which post had the most profound influence (positive or negative)?

Heck, who’s been your most favoritist author? (OK, maybe PhiloDave wins that one by default (not just ’cause he’s got the most posts (therefore the most replies), and he is THE author of The Lounge) because he’s best at embeding parenthesis in his posts (don’t even know if I spelled that right (just adding one more to show you how this ain’t easy (now I gotta count (where are those math folks when you need ’em))).

In any case, ya know what I mean, so go ahead and be reflective. Give it some thought.

Yes, you can create your own category too.

Think, Know, Prove–Reinvention Invitation (Official Version): Are You Gonna?

UPDATED: Now with a poll!

So you saw the email from President Metoyer yesterday (if you are HW faculty, that is) explaining that the previously announced deadline (of Monday) was a deadline that HE gave (one of those soft-academy-deadlines-that-isn’t-really-a-deadline-but-is-meant-as-encouragement-to-all-of-us-faculty-who-let’s face-it-never-met-a-deadline-we-didn’t-miss ( those are my words not his)) that was meant to simply encourage us to get applications done and submitted as soon as possible and give all those people who really, really, really want a deadline a deadline to work with. Sent with good intentions, it, nonetheless created some confusion, which he quickly and thoroughly clarified to our collective appreciation.

And so we turned, with high hopes, to our Inbox watch to await the official invitation from District, which we hoped would answer any lingering questions. It came today. And when I finished reading it, this was the sound I made: Grrrrrrrrrrr…..(New information: 7th task force on adult ed, and deadline of October 15th; Information Not Included: Answers to every other question about how these task forces will work asked at the original presentation, the follow up forum, and the various postings on the topic since this Plan was announced. Rather disappointing. Also, aggravating.) This is what it says, in case you missed it:


October 8, 2010

Faculty, Staff and Students:

We were excited to see so many of you at the Case for Change presentation held at all seven colleges on Friday, October 1, 2010.  Many people expressed a sincere desire to help in the effort to reinvent the City Colleges. It’s going to take a real commitment from all of us to make this transformation a success.

Here’s how you can get involved:

For those ready to be a part of the Reinvention initiative and able to commit to dedicating about the next nine months to joining one of the task forces, either full-time or part-time, we are requesting that you email us at by Friday, October 15th. We encourage applying sooner if possible; there has been a great deal of interest to date already. (If you can’t make that significant of a commitment at this time, additional options are outlined below.)

Below is a recap of the task force choices. These task forces will form the core of the reinvention effort, focused on reinventing CCC to drive student success:

1. Program Portfolio Design

  • Revamp program offerings to increase the economic value of credentials earned at CCC by aligning with the needs of the marketplace
  • Increase the number of transfers by better understanding the requirements of 4-year institutions

2. Student Support and Pathways

  • Improve advising, tutoring, job placement, transfer support, and other supports
  • Ensure each and every student has the best chance to succeed at CCC

3. Remediation

  • Drastically improve outcomes for students requiring remediation
  • Develop approaches to more quickly move all students needing remediation into credit programs
  • Partner with Chicago Public Schools and others

4. Faculty & Staff Development

  • Improve the supports and developmental opportunities to enable faculty and staff to serve our students

5. Operational Excellence and Optimization

  • Improve the return on investment of non-instructional funds invested across the colleges
  • Build an investment strategy fully aligned to driving student success
  • Develop a clear capital investment strategy for the future of CCC

6. Technology

  • Build the technological capabilities and systems to drive significant improvement in CCC data integrity, instructional technology, and non-instructional/support technology

7. Adult Education

  • Focus on increasing both the absolute number and proportion of ABE/GED/ESL students who advance to and succeed in college-level courses

Being a team member will not only be of great benefit to CCC and our students, it will also be an exciting challenge for you, one that promises to stretch and develop you professionally, expose you to new topics and techniques, and work hand-in-hand with District leadership to accomplish something truly transformational.

How do you get involved in a Task Force?

  • Be willing and able to dedicate about the next nine months to participate on one of the task forces, either full-time or part-time
  • Email us at by Friday, October 15th. We encourage applying sooner if possible; there has been a great deal of interest to date already!
  • Let us know:

o   Preference of task force

o   Brief biography, including skill set as pertains to the task force

o   5 of your ideas to address the challenges within your preferred task force’s focus area

  • · We will review these ideas and select the teams
    (Whether faculty, staff or students, we will work with you to find solutions to allow you to join the task forces, including substitutions for class coverage and coverage of duties at the college. If we cannot find satisfactory solutions to these challenges, we will find ways to get your input through the other options listed below.)
  • Get involved as a Frequent Collaborator, with a medium time commitment to contribute in areas of your interest and expertise

What if you want to be involved outside of a Task Force?

o   Participate on ad hoc committees that will have regular contact with the task forces

o   Participate in focus groups that we will be convening on topics of interest to you

  • Get involved as a Valued Contributor, with a lesser time commitment and a willingness to contribute in one-off ways

o   Participate in surveys to help the task forces understand how we can face these pressing challenges

o   Email us at with suggestions, comments, and thoughts about how we can reinvent CCC

o   Interact on the upcoming website (URL coming soon!) which will keep you informed and aware of all efforts related to reinvention

  • We encourage creativity—tell us how you want to get involved and we will make it happen!

Have an impact on student success at CCC –

Join the Reinvention initiative!

So, with a week to go until the deadline and no answers to the various questions we’ve asked along the way, what are you thinking?

I know of one department (not mine) that has had extensive discussion about who will participate and what it will look like for the department, and I’ve had a few conversations over the last 48 hours with people who were considering it, but had some dissonance about it (for different reasons in each case). Tempis fugit, nonetheless, and as the time is flying, the deadline nears. Perhaps they’re waiting to see what they get before making decisions about the where and how of it. Maybe they’ll let faculty decide those things. Maybe a god will come down from the sky in a giant machine and fix all of the plot problems thus far unresolved. Maybe we will just have to fly blind for awhile.

Given all of that, what do you think? Assume for the moment, that we’ve got what we’re going to find out until at least they know who has applied and how many–are you planning to do it? Do you think the rest of us faculty should?

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

Advice for Administrators

Administrators have a thankless job. So here is some unsolicited advice for them in doing their job, just in case there’s an administrator wandering through who is looking for some advice on how to be an administrator (or, more likely, a faculty member who is thinking about taking on some kind of educational leadership position) who happens to be reading here today.

From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Writing Advice

This article seems very true to me:

Rachel Toor and other writers on these pages have talked about how hard it is to write well, and of course that’s true. Fortunately, the standards of writing in most disciplines are so low that you don’t need to write well. What I have tried to produce below are 10 tips on scholarly nonfiction writing that might help people write less badly.

The article is called, “Ten Tips on How to Write Less Badly” Worth the read (and worth sharing with students), I think.

Advice for People Who Are Leaders (or Members) of Departments

I became the chair of my department by accident as much as anything. I had been a full time faculty member for a semester and a half, and all of our senior faculty were retiring at the same time, leaving seven people with less than a year as full time faculty. I’d been around as an adjunct the longest, so I was senior, and, well, none of us could think of a better solution.

Over four years of doing it, I learned a lot, and I’ve learned a lot in the two years since, while watching a great colleague do the job.

I know at least one department is holding chair elections for next fall, and there might be others. Regardless, though, I think everyone–chairs and non-chairs would benefit from reading this list of advice published in the Chronicle of Higher Ed last week. One thing I know for sure is that I had ZERO appreciation for what it meant to be a department chair until I was one. I’m not sure I would have had more of an appreciation if I’d read this list, but I hope I would have. I certainly didn’t do all of it while I was chair, but I think I would have been a better chair if I had.

Think, Know, Prove

Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

With apologies to the adjunct eyeballs out there, this one is about our beloved (ha) tenure process. I mean, seriously, does anyone think it is even remotely defensible? Has anyone gotten anything positive except tenure out of going through it, which is not to mention A) all of the unnecessary suffering that is requisite for the good at the end; and B) that it is consistently described as a kind of harrowing process to get through, which makes tenure more of a finish line than a quality verification.

Two common misconceptions are that the law or our contract are the reasons for the tenure process being what it is, but the truth is that neither say much on the topic. The guiding force is, far and away, academic policy 2.20A, which can be changed at the wave of a few hands at a board meeting. Have you ever read that thing? If you’d like to, here’s a link; if you don’t have time, but you’d like to know what the experience is like, pick up a big dictionary or a frying pan or something heavy and then hit yourself in the forehead with it. 15 or 16 times ought to do it.

It’s completely non-sensical. As is the process. At least that’s what I think, and what I’ve heard from others.

I’m familiar with arguments against tenure, as well as for it, and, while those topics are interesting, they are not what I want to propose for discussion here today. I also understand that a rigorous tenure process is a good thing, but I don’t think that’s what we have (In fact it bothered me so much, that I drafted a proposal a couple of years ago to change the process and worked on it for months with Art DiVito. We got as far as a district Dean’s meeting, before it went into limbo. I for one, still hold out hope for a better, more reflective, more logical, more evidence based, and (so) more rigorous process that is much, much less redundant and annoying for everyone involved.), but that, too, is a topic for another day.

Today, I propose that we remember, regardless of all our complaints and distaste for the current process that we still have people going through it. So, the point of this post is to provide a little support to our non-tenured colleagues. If you’re out there with tenure in your pocket, what advice do you have for those going through the tenure process at HWC? What did you learn from your own experiences? What do you wish you had (or hadn’t) done? And if you’re out there, non-tenured, here is a place for you to ask questions (and do so anonymously, if you’d like).

Finally, rest assured: this site is NOT hosted on CCC servers nor does it have anything to do with them or their stuff. Consequently, they do NOT have access to names or posters or anything associated with it. The Administrators and Editor/Contributors are HW faculty, so you don’t have to be concerned about administrative spying eyes or recriminations for things you post here. If you use a pseudonym, only WordPress knows who you are, and they don’t care what you say about the CCC tenure process. Fire away…

(Oh, and one other thing: I’d be happy to post an adjunct special next week–a topic of particular concern to our adjunct faculty for discussion, as long as anyone out there with a suggestion sends it along to me ( or posts it in the comments. Thanks in advance.)

h/t to Ivan Tejeda for suggesting today’s topic.