Archive: May 2019

I started writing this blog on May 13, 2013. In the “Welcome” post I noted, “On July 1, 2013 I will become Professor and Founding Dean of the College of Social Sciences and Professional Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Before the move I will write about preparation for assuming that position, and after July 1, 2013 I will chronicle my first year in the creation of a new unit.” In the July 1, 2014 “One Year In” post I wrote,

Today was my one year anniversary as a new dean. It’s also my 100th post to this blog. I wish that I could say that this coincidence was part of a grand design…

My original plan was to just write the blog for the first year as a new dean, but I’ll keep going with occasional entries. Thanks for the comments on posts in the first year!

I didn’t have any additional entries until March 25, 2015, when I noted that I was moving to San José State U. On July 12, 2015 I resumed making regular blog entries.

Now, however, is probably a good time to end the blog. The “About Dispatches From a Dean” description notes, “A sociologist, this blog chronicles [Jacobs’] journeys in collegiate administration, where he applies his view of academic leadership as both a social science and an art.” I definitely did that in many of the 291 other entries, but in the last year or so the entries have mostly been links to online articles that I thought were interesting. Yesterday was the College of Social Sciences’ spring 2019 Commencement, and today is the spring 2019 African American Student Commencement. In the spirit of commencement being the end of one stage of an ongoing journey as the launching point of the next adventure, I’ll “end” the 292nd blog post by stating that I’ve enjoyed writing this blog over the past 6 years, and I look forward to sharing my experiences in other avenues. Thank you for accompanying me!

Today (Wednesday, May 22, 2019) marks the start of commencement season here at SJSU: three college ceremonies are on tap today, followed by two each tomorrow and Friday. Then on Saturday special ceremonies are held, such as “Black Grad” for African-American students. Graduation ceremonies are mostly fun, but they can also be nerve wracking. The College of Social Sciences ceremony on Friday should be fine…if it doesn’t rain. Send good vibes!

Before becoming an administrator I was an “open-door storyteller” who authored a book on undergraduate media literacy. I dusted off my copy of the book after reading a Pacific Standard magazine article on media literacy for Generation Z. The author notes that we have a very tall task ahead of us. He closes with, “[u]shering the [media literacy for children] curriculum into the 21st century will demand of us—the adults—to undertake the educational equivalent of the Manhattan Project.” My book was very positive about the media literacy abilities of students, so I guess that if writing it today it would have a very different tone. Wow!

The website for The Guardian has a very interesting new entry in its “Walking the City” series: “The art of noticing: five ways to experience a city differently.” The article advises us to:

  1. Look for ghosts and ruins.
  2. Get there the hard way.
  3. Eat somewhere dubious.
  4. Read the plaque.
  5. Follow the quiet.

Awesome! I’ll have to follow all five steps the next time I’m in a new city…

Slate magazine has an interesting story about how the United States has not elected a president with previous experience as a city mayor in almost 100 years. Republican Calvin Coolidge was the last, serving as president from 1923 to 1929 after being mayor of Northampton, Massachusetts from 1910 to 1912. Several politicians who are or were mayors are currently vying for the Democratic nomination. It will be difficult for them to succeed, as “the sphere mayors operate in is largely subservient to state and federal government. Power resides with state and federal officials, who tend to take credit and deflect responsibility when it comes to urban affairs. A governor might score points for a tax cut, for example, but leave it to a mayor to figure out how to maintain after-school programs with less revenue.” Current national trends, however, are producing questions about cities and/or issues driven by urban life. “We may not get a president who ran one of the country’s cities, but at least, for a change, we’ll get to talk about them.” Indeed!