"Ask the Dean," a newspaper column by Dean Ali Malekzadeh, debuts

Column takes aim at higher education topics that many college leaders would rather avoid discussing in public | September 9, 2010

Dean Ali Malekzadeh

Dean Ali Malekzadeh

Drawing on experiences from his 28-year career, Xavier University Dean Ali Malekzadeh has launched a weekly column about higher education called “Ask the Dean.”

Dean Malekzadeh, who heads the Williams College of Business, intends to reveal what happens behind the scenes at colleges and universities.

With his offbeat sense of humor and his often-blunt approach, Dean Malekzadeh will answer perplexing questions such as:

  • Why are faculty members considered full-time employees if they only come to campus several days a week?
  • My roommate is a night person. I'm a day person. What should I do?
  • Why do athletes get special treatment?

The first media outlet to publish the column is the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson. On Mondays, Ask the Dean will be appearing in the Daily Star newspaper and on its website.

Ask the Dean debuted with a column about why students have to study subjects they hate.

Another column chided state governments for slashing funding for public universities.

Malekzadeh calls universities “some of the best-kept secrets in America.

“Even though tens of millions of people have college degrees, live near a college or pay taxes to support colleges, the public knows little about how they operate,” Malekzadeh says. “Public officials, parents of college students, community leaders and the news media are kept away from colleges, often told by university officials: “Trust us! And by the way, send more money!” 

What type of writing can we expect from Malekzadeh? Consider these passages:

  • Referring to college expenses, he writes that, in private colleges, tuition can cost "as much as two Ferraris."
  • Addressing class size at state universities, he says "Students in the back rows . . . may have to wave a flag to get their professor's attention."
  • And in explaining why colleges require certain courses, he recommends that students not view the curriculum like a buffet where they can "pile whatever they like on their plate, and leave out the broccoli (math), beans (science), and Brussels sprouts (foreign languages)."

In addition to Xavier, Malekzadeh has served in leadership roles and on the faculty at Arizona State University and Minnesota State University. He also has taught at Northeastern University.

In 2001, he received the Outstanding Administrator Award of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, among leaders from 34 campuses. In his career, he has been nominated six times for teaching awards.

Other Ask the Dean columns:

Teaching is just one part of a professor's duties

Private college may be worth the high price

Students with complaints do have recourse

No need to rush graduation in three years

Choosing right school is like love connection