I have been blessed and privileged to work with some great colleagues across the four colleges where I worked prior to Luther. As my career has progressed over the past 23 years, I’ve been seeing the collective wisdom of bright, seasoned, and committed educators appear in written form.
As the new academic year nears, we often see news stories, opinion pieces, and other contributions about the college experience, the first year of college, the liberal arts, leaving home, etc. Some of these dispense good information and are worth engaging.
I’d like to tell you about three former colleagues who are writing about their experiences and expressing their care for students (at their own institution or the population at large).
In 1995, I joined Hamilton College as a program coordinator in the student activities office and I developed a great working relationship with my supervisor, Beverly Low. I left Hamilton after four years for another position but later reconnected with Beverly when I joined the Colgate University student affairs staff in 2003. She was a great mentor and is a wonderful friend; she is also a strong writer.
Beverly recently became the director of guidance and college counseling at Manchester Essex Regional School District in Massachusetts. At Colgate, Beverly was the dean of first year students for 13 years. Throughout her professional career in higher education, she worked with the first-year students via orientation, first-year experience programs or as a dean. She began offering her wisdom and insights through contributions to the Huffington Post in August 2012. Some pieces she has written include:
Another former colleague and former supervisor just completed 10 years of service as the vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Colby College in Maine. Jim Terhune now works closely with Colby’s president as the vice president for strategic initiatives and he has quickly built a selection of thought pieces on the college experience. His new blog, “My College Wisdom” already boasts fourteen posts since just last month. Some of Jim’s posts include:
Jim was my supervisor at Colgate until he left for his role at Colby. I held the position Jim once had at Colgate but moved it in a new direction as the director of the Center for Leadership and Student Involvement. With Jim’s support, I eventually transitioned to become one of the advising deans, and that was my role for the last six years I was there. In this role, I gained a deep appreciation for the challenges and opportunities students have and how we could work with their professors to help students find success. As the chief student conduct officer at Colgate, I had plenty of opportunities to visit with students after they had made a mistake. I sometimes had to deliver significant outcomes to them (expulsion or suspension). But what I always tried to keep in mind was the redemptive power of owning and learning from mistakes. I have a postcard near my desk that reminds me of this exact case, someone who made multiple mistakes, spent time away but ultimately returned -- a different person, a motivated student -- to graduate.
The person who hired me at Colgate in 2003 is now president of Denison University in Ohio. I had the tremendous opportunity to learn from Adam Weinberg, if only for a short period, before he left to become the CEO of World Learning. He was and continues to be one of the strongest public thought leaders on the value of a liberal arts education. Further, Adam understands and appreciates how students must be engaged in their learning to reap the full benefits of their education. Whether it is through classroom learning, applied learning experiences, or the wealth of co-curricular opportunities on campus, students have -- I will introduce an old quote of his -- “a responsibility disguised as an opportunity.” Some of his wisdom can be found in his contributions to the Huffington Post:
I invite you to explore these and other writings by three individuals who are positively shaping the student experience. You may even direct your student to some of them.
Likewise, the wisdom of many in the Luther community is available through the Ideas and Creations blog on Luther’s website. Faculty, staff, and students contribute to this blog and it is a must-read. You may not agree with each writer’s perspective, but the blog illustrates how our residential community engages in civil discussion around important ideas and issues.