Colleagues and friends,
Happy New Year!
Today we welcomed our students back from winter break. And, now, all of a sudden it all feels real again.
The new year is an interesting milestone in higher education. While it marks newness in so many ways, it’s only the mid-way point for admissions and development professionals and there is much to do.
My work in advancement offers a new perspective on the new year and something I really like.
Calendar year-end giving, and the push that comes with it, provides a sense of closure, if only temporary. Assessing calendar year-end gifts allows a moment of clarity about what lies ahead in order to be successful. This midway point allows advancement professionals to reset and refocus, if needed, in a way that is impossible in admissions, given the emphasis on one day, May 1.
I wish there was a similar regroup, reset, refocus opportunity in admissions. But, as so many of us know, that moment usually comes too late.
It is one major difference, between admissions and advancement, in two worlds that are otherwise a whole lot more alike than different.
Finally, as I am thinking about a new year, here are my resolutions:
- Read more
- Exercise more
- Eat better
- Run another half-marathon
- Join something meaningful
- Unplug more often
I don’t know how I’ll do, but those are the resolutions. How about you? You will willing to share yours?
A thought article I can’t get out of my mind
Over the holiday break, I was scrolling through photos on my phone and I ran across a photo of sticker on the outside of an envelope that enclosed some papers my father gave to me at some point. (My dad would often “decorate” the outside of envelopes).
Anyway, the sticker included the following phrase:
“Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.”
I probably didn’t give it much thought at the time, but seeing this now, I was really struck by the phrase.
I guess there is always more good to do. Perhaps we can all commit to doing more good in 2018?
Two things I think are worth reading (if you haven’t already done so)
University Presidents: We’ve been blindsided—Again, Politico offers excellent insight into what is happening in higher education. While some of this article is a bit like that scene from the movie Casablanca during which Captain Renault expresses “shock” that there is gambling at Rick’s (as he collects his winnings) it also captures an important change in the broader public that can no longer be overlooked or underestimated.
In the article from Politico, author, Benjamin Wermund includes the following passage, which seems to capture what’s going on very well:
“Rice University president David Leebron put it this way: “If you go back 15 years, I think universities were held — not where the military is, but pretty much just below that. Now, we’ve fallen a lot. I think it’s a very challenging time where we can’t just go out in the world and say, ‘We’re an esteemed institution’ and people will credit what we’re saying.”
This change in public perception about the value of and role of colleges and universities is not something that can be turned around overnight. What will we do to address this? How will we respond? How will we respond to internal audience or external forces? How will we reconcile our own feelings?
This may be a greater challenge than demographic shifts.
How we can keep more graduates—I recently ran across an opinion-editorial by the director of career services at the Business School at Virginia Tech and thought it was very good. In particular, I appreciated the author’s emphasis on local companies “competing” for talent.
Within our own community there is a desire to have more Augustana graduates stay in the Quad Cities. I think it’s a noble goal, but we may need to do a better job of illustrating why local companies need to compete for our graduates.
We graduate very talented students, who can go anywhere, and local companies need to understand and appreciate that. What is our role, in external relations, for making the case to local companies that they need to compete for our talented graduates?
Something for you (and me) to think about
When my father died in October of 2015, it was my task to clean out his desk and office. I found his files to be fascinating and illuminating. My dad spent a good part of every day in his office. He’d read or bang on his manual typewriter keys corresponding with friends or composing a sermon.
Among the many sermons and notes for Bible study and the occasional hand-written reminder, I found a carbon paper copy of something titled “The language of meetings” by William Joseph Barnds. Below are sixteen observations my father included:
- “Existential situation”: The mess we have got ourselves into.
- “He elaborated his point”: He kept talking.
- “We will incorporate the ideas”: We will try to make everyone happy.
- “This is fundamental”: This is my pet and I love to talk about it.
- “It was an act of God”: I don’t want to talk the blame for my own procrastination or failure.
- “Pinpoint the problem”: Try to keep the bores quiet while I speak my piece.
- “He has made a very astute observation”: He has backed me up and expressed my point of view almost as well as I did.
- “We must stress the importance of our work”: We must try to kid others as successfully as we’ve kidded ourselves.
- “Get a cross-section of needs”: Find out what they’re hollering about the loudest.
- “Strategize”: Decide how to get someone else to do my job.
- “Expertly expressive”: Contains the most nebulous jargon.
- “Isolated situation”: The mess that everyone knows I am responsible for.
- “There has been a breakdown in communication”: Some people have been lucky enough to avoid learning our vocabulary and there for have been unable to understand our pronouncements.
- “Buttress the argument”: Holler louder.
- “Transfer the detail”: Find a sucker.
- “Develop a strategy to overcome the problem”: Adjourn the meeting!
Isn’t this awesome? This preceded any sort of college fair bingo.
A copy hangs in my office at work as a reminder of my dad’s wisdom and the phrases I need to avoid!
Is there something you’d like me to muse upon?
If you are curious about a topic or would like some musings about something in particular, please let me know by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.S. If you know of someone who you think I should add to my distribution list, please let me know and I will gladly add them to the list. I try to get one of these out every Monday. And, you can read past issues of my musings at my blog @bowtieadmission