“How are you enjoying retirement, Tom?” This is the question I get everywhere I meet old friends and colleagues. “I read that nice article about your retirement in the local paper and see that the mayor even declared in a proclamation that this event was to be honored in the city as ‘Dr. Thomas R. McDaniel Day,’ and I see that the governor awarded you the Order of the Silver Crescent for your contributions to the state and region—very cool way to go out.”
Many academic leaders are involved in regional accreditations, and I am no exception. The six regional accrediting agencies are becoming increasingly stringent in the application and interpretation of their standards, and this can make the accrediting process a difficult one to survive. Our institution was a founding member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and has been accredited continuously from the beginning. I have been involved in four of the 10-year “reaffirmation” activities, serving as chair of the college steering committee twice and serving as our institutional liaison with SACS for many years.
We hear a great deal these days about “accountability” in the academy. Many states (including South Carolina, where I try my best to be a “responsible” college administrator) have some kind of state law mandating that public schools—and, in some cases, colleges—demonstrate that they are indeed “accountable.”
While I am far from a computer guru, I know the great value of technology and have become addicted to email. I am not sure how many hundred email messages I get each week, but my OCD tendencies lead me to an irresistible desire to check and respond to my messages many times a day. Such a compulsion is, I fear, only one symptom of my personal infomania and rushaholism. And I know I am not alone.
Most of us who have found our way into academic administration (surely, few of us actually plan such a career) have learned to survive the whitewater rafting experiences of academe by drawing on reserves of stoic patience and calm rationality we never knew we had. That is to say, Epictetus lives today in many an academic administrator’s office, perhaps sitting like some modern-day Jiminy Cricket on the administrator’s shoulder, saying, “Patience, my friend. Be strong and endure, for this too will pass.”
These student evaluations are so much a part of our system and have become so routine for our students and faculty that I have seldom questioned their value or necessity. But are they really (as Martha Stewart might say) “a good thing?” […]
This is not a rant. As a college administrator, I am fully aware of the importance of assessment, and the bureaucratic efficiencies mandated in higher education in our country today.…