UPDATE March 29, 2015:
In August 2014, I announced my new position as Dean of Students for the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco. At that time I was very excited to have the opportunity to work at the place where I’d studied. I’m devoted to sexology, and was aware of IASHS as a unique resource. As a volunteer grad, I redesigned the IASHS website and created custom graphics and YouTube videos for the school. I even set up Twitter and other social media accounts so that the school could reach out to the internet generation.
At the time I was hired as Dean, I assumed that my innovative volunteer efforts and my “internet saavy” was one of the reasons I’d been approached about the job.
During the time I worked the Dean’s desk, I enjoyed engaging with enrolled and prospective students. I created communication procedures of complete transparency so that any member of the staff would be able to access (a) the email I used for student communication and (2) track follow-up communication in bi-monthly reports.
I was also given the task of sorting through potential accrediting agencies and procedures as IASHS is now mandated, under CA law SB-1247, to submit a plan for accreditation to the Bureau of Private Post-Secondary Education by July 1, 2015.
Unfortunately, I was not able to do the good work that I wanted to do for the school – including bringing a logical, strategic and pro-active approach to preparing for the upcoming accreditation process. Because I actually examined websites and manuals for several potential agencies – and they all mandated institutional self-reflection, assessment, and sometimes procedural or curricula changes as part of the long (and costly) process – I saw an immediate need to upgrade certain curricula materials. (Students have been complaining about outdated materials for years). I had hoped to convince IASHS that this could easily be done through “print on demand” technology. So I put in countless hours of my own time to update and redesign a draft of a core textbook (The SARguide), as an example of what could be done for almost no money at all (since I was prepared to continue donating my time on that particular book). I also began to construct “demo” courses using Moodle, so that IASHS core courses could be available online, as well as upgraded and updated. This was also mostly done on my own time.
Unfortunately, I was not allowed a chance to present the demo materials, or to explain how they could help advance the cause of accreditation, not to mention making the students happier and prospective students more likely to enroll. When I understood that these efforts were unwelcome, I knew it was time to move on.
In my job, as long as I saw the potential for contributing to a “new, improved” IASHS, I could feel good about talking to prospective students. As it is, I can no longer recommend or promote the school until it has made important improvements to materials and certain policies that affect the students. When that day comes, I will be happy to once again Tweet and FB the glad tidings.
I hope the next Dean – whoever it may be – has more success in contributing to the organization’s future. Like many other students and graduates, I’d like to see IASHS continue and shine.