Monday, March 31, 2014

Comments Regarding "Out on a Limb: A Branch Campus Life"

Early feedback on my book, Out on a Limb:  A Branch Campus Life, has been gratifying.  I’m pleased that people find it an interesting read, but even happier when they find helpful information or ideas.  There are so few resources for people working on branches that I hope my contribution might provide some support or encouragement.

A few friends have asked about my intended audience, and that’s a good question.  Although I’d like to think that lots of people might find Out on a Limb interesting, the specific reader I kept in mind as I wrote was a campus chief administrator (dean, director, or whatever the title).  In particular, I was thinking about an individual who recently landed on a branch campus without having an extensive branch background.  I know from meeting people at NABCA and RBCA meetings that one can feel a little lost and alone out on that limb, and so I wanted to extend a helping hand.

Secondarily, I also was thinking about a main campus administrator who has branches reporting to him or her and wants some help in thinking through the branch mission, opportunities and challenges.  I’ve met a number of individuals, from presidents on down, who have more or less inherited branch responsibility, and they may quickly begin to realize that working with branches is different than anything they’ve done before.

More broadly, I think the book will be of particular interest to administrators and other professional staff.  Faculty members may or may not be interested in most of the topics covered, although I personally believe the more anyone understands about how branches grow or decline, the better they will be able to contribute to the success of their own campus and to design a satisfying professional career.

I’ve also been asked about my decision to approach the book more or less as a memoir.  Frankly, that decision was the most difficult planning choice that I made.  It was driven partly by the lack of research or other sources that could have supported the broad presentation that I wanted, but also by my desire to present something of a branch campus story, rather than necessarily a work of scholarship.  Eventually, the book concept fell in place for me, when I organized chapters to follow my career trajectory.  Thus, my decisions about audience and to use what I call a “quasi-memoir” approach were conscious decisions on my part that gave the project its focus and structure.

Just as a reminder, Out on a Limb:  A Branch Campus Life is available through Amazon, in either a print or Kindle version.  Tell your friends and colleagues! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Out on a Limb: A Branch Campus Life

I’m pleased to announce publication of my new book, Out on a Limb:  A Branch Campus Life.  It has been a long time coming, but it is now available on Amazon, in both a print (paperback) version and a Kindle e-book version.  You can find it at (Kindle version) or (Print version).

Chapter topics are:

1.     A Partial Memoir
2.     Characteristics of a Branch Campus
3.     Politics, Purpose, and Practice
4.     Students
5.     Branch Campus Faculty Members
6.     Branch Campus Support Staff
7.     Agendas and Stakeholders
8.     Financing and Managing Budgets on Branch Campuses
9.     Lessons Learned:  Leadership on and in Support of Branch Campuses
10.  Future Challenges and Opportunities

Writing for my blogs, especially Branch Campus Life, definitely helped organize my thoughts and ideas around branch campuses, but I drew directly from previous material on only a few occasions.  No doubt, the book was enhanced by the many opportunities I’ve had to visit institutions around the United States and, in a few cases, in other countries.  Each campus has its own story to tell, yet there are relatively consistent themes that I encounter everywhere I go.

My goal with the book was to tell a story.  Because there is so little research on branch campuses, I drew heavily on my own experience, and I make no claim that Out on a Limb is a work of scholarship.  On the other hand, I’d be pleased if it led others to look thoughtfully and creatively at some of the issues I raise. 

Toward the end of the book I became more direct about what I believe to be critical for branches to succeed in the future.  These campuses are an important resource for students and for institutions, but if people don’t understand the unique nature of branch campuses and the keys to their success in a highly competitive environment, then opportunities are likely to be lost.

As I wrote, I especially had branch chief administrators in mind.  Leading a branch campus is a challenging role, but it also can be immensely rewarding and can open the door to higher education for people who otherwise would be pushed to an online environment for which they are not prepared, or forced to turn away from their dreams.  Branches change lives in myriad ways.  If you work on a branch campus you should be grateful for the opportunity and proud of the difference you make.

I hope readers will find Out on a Limb:  A Branch Campus Life interesting and helpful.  If you know people who might enjoy reading the book, I hope you will let them know it is available.  As always, I’m also interested in opportunities to provide coaching or consulting services, visit institutions to facilitate a planning conversation, or speak at meetings with an adult learner or nontraditional student theme.

Finally, I want to express my appreciation for the many friends and colleagues I have around the country.  Your support and willingness to share ideas has made a great contribution to my work.