The blogging VPAA?


I was thinking over the session coming up at Blog Indiana by John Oak Dalton titled “Chancellor 2.0” which promises to address “existing and emerging obstacles of CEO-grade context” [sic? Was that supposed to be “content”?] for Twitter. In other words, it sounds like the session will be about how to get your college’s upper administration up and running with blogging and tweeting. I’m curious to see what Dalton makes of this, because his home institution seems to have embraced blogging and Twitter at a scale you don’t normally see from a university. Even the chancellor tweets.

I’d love to see more college administrators blogging or twittering, using their real names, making no secret of their institutions, and writing honestly about their successes and struggles in the work that they do. There’s no faster track to giving higher education a measure of transparency that it badly needs than this. That transparency is needed both inside and out.

On the inside, faculty benefit from having a window on what the administration is doing, rather than having an administration that lives and works behind a wall of separation. Students, for whom college administration is especially important but also mysterious, would benefit too. And as faculty have a tendency to objectify administrators and turn them into lay figures to complain about — a mirror image of what many students do to faculty — anything that administrators can do to show people their human side (up to a point, of course; there’s still such a thing as “too much information”) helps the organization operate better.

On the outside, the general public has cultivated such a distrust and dislike for higher education — and can they be blamed, the way we act sometimes? — that giving them that same window on administrative operations would be an honest, unilateral step towards reestablishing the trust that ought to be shared between town and gown. And if I were a parent with a child about to start college, the administrator and faculty blogs would be a valuable source of information about what the college is really like.

If I were a college administrator (not that I’m looking to become one), not only would I be blogging and Twittering regularly, I’d encourage the people who work under me as well as faculty to do the same. I’d be trying to make sure the resources are there to make it happen — dedicated server space for faculty and staff to have their own WordPress installations, and so forth — and most important to make sure that they have permission to speak freely. Imagine what it would be like if your official college blog posts or tweets could be used for your benefit towards tenure.

Are there other college administrators out there who blog or tweet? Or any administrators out there reading this post who don’t, and would care to explain why not?

2 Comments

Filed under Academic freedom, Blogging, Higher ed, Life in academia, Social software, Technology, Tenure, Twitter, Web 2.0

2 responses to “The blogging VPAA?

  1. Here at Georgia Tech, Gary Schuster blogged a bit when he was serving as Interim President. Now that he’s back to Provost/EVPAA, he’s stopped. It’s looking like maybe we’ll get something blog-like out of Bud Peterson, but I’m afraid it might be written by staff more than by him. Of course, if it’s at least a view inside and coming from his ideas, it might still be worthwhile.

    I agree wholeheartedly about the issue of real names and institutions. It’s really weird seeing how many anonymous blogs are out there from people in higher education. What are we scared of that we really need to hide behind anonymity? So much for academic freedom if people are too scared to speak out about what’s going on at their institutions.

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Robert. Yes, that was supposed to be “content;” I can’t remember if it was my typo or BlogIndiana’s. I hope you got some good takeaways either way! John