“The College Administrator’s Survival Guide”

Post to Twitter

The cover and the use of initials in place of a first name are a little off-putting, but I’m guessing that was the publisher’s idea, so that prospective readers wouldn’t be scared off by girl germs. The author is in fact a woman. Although it isn’t directly pitched at law professors, this book, The College Administrator’s Survival Guide, by C.K. Gunsalus (Harvard University Press, 2006), seems like it might have a lot to offer all academics, not just college administrators. Here is an overview of the kind of issues it addresses from the publisher’s webpage:

Late one afternoon, as you are organizing your new office as department chair, one of the senior members of the department drops by. He affably informs you of his plans for the coming semester: that contrary to the published class schedule, he only teaches on Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday, and Thursday morning, so as to have the weekends free for travel; that he expects the office staff to start his coffeemaker by 10 a.m. sharp on his teaching days; and that since he hasn’t been assigned a research assistant, his teaching assistant will do research tasks, including errands. What do you say? What do you do?

Dean Dad has two interesting observations about the book at Confessions of a Community College Dean:

“Everybody Knows,” in which he writes:

Strictly speaking, something that ‘everybody knows’ needn’t be said, since everybody already knows it. Realistically, it’s hyperbole indicating that ‘further inquiry is useless, since the conclusion should be obvious to any sentient being.’ Everybody knows that Bob is a dick, so whatever he’s complaining about can safely be ignored. Alternately: even if Bob is right, he’s right for the wrong reasons, since everybody knows he’s a dick.

I’ve been in several situations over the last few years in which what ‘everybody knew’ was wrong.

Usually, it’s based on a feedback loop.

and “Victim Bullies,” where he observes:

Gunsalus distinguishes between traditional, assertive bullies, who throw their weight around with bluster and force, and ‘victim bullies,’ who use claims of having been wronged to gain leverage over others.(pp. 123-4) Unlike simple passive-aggression, victim bullies use accusations as weapons, and ramp up the accusations over time. Unlike a normal person, who would slink away in shame as the initial accusations are discredited, a victim bully lacks either guilt or shame, honestly believing that s/he has been so egregiously wronged in some cosmic way that anything s/he does or says is justified in the larger scheme of things. So when the initial accusations are dismissed, the victim bully’s first move is a sort of double-or-nothing, raising the absurdity and the stakes even more.

Via M.B. the Younger.

This entry was posted in Academia, Recommended Books. Bookmark the permalink.