Dean Joe Boehman

Straight talk: Spiders tune into ‘Deanology’

June 21, 2024


Joe Boehman didn’t need to make a long leap to create the lessons in his weekly podcast, “Deanology: Good stuff from a college dean.”

After all, the veteran Richmond College dean has talked one-on-one with countless students for more than 35 years. He knows their biggest dreams and their greatest fears. He’s helped them overcome the personal challenges that can sometimes get in the way of academic success.

“Every student is in a different place when I talk with them,” said Boehman, who recently completed the pilot year of his weekly podcast. “But that spurs me to think about how other students might be dealing with that same issue and how I can broadly speak to them.”

When creating his podcasts, Boehman also draws from lessons he’s developed from teaching short courses and emerging trends across higher education.

In recent years, he’s heard more about the struggle for connection after years of pandemic isolation. “Our current generation of students went through COVID and a lot of Zoom learning, and that — in combination with social media — has made honest-to-goodness, face-to-face connection something of a new skill,” he said.

Turning his office into a studio, Boehman records his podcast in a single sitting. He caps each episode at 10 minutes — the time it takes for a student to listen to it on the walk across campus.

He’s recorded 30 podcasts to date. Some focus on evergreen topics such as setting personal goals, nurturing creativity, and overcoming procrastination. While these topics aren’t new, each class of incoming students faces them for the first time, he said. “There’s always a new story, a new angle, and a new way to explain a concept.”

He hopes the lessons will stick with them.

“One of the main lessons I’m trying to get across to students in `Deanology' is that the learning should never stop,” he said. “What can help them get through college will help them get through the rest of their life: how to think on their feet, how to find resources, and how to adapt them to their own purposes.”

He also films a daily Instagram series, “Good morning, Spiders.” That, along with the podcast, are reaching an audience beyond the campus borders — sometimes resulting in a personal connection.

“Students have come to me and said, ‘You know, my mom or dad listens to the podcast,’” he said, “`and they told me to come talk to you.”