Author Archives for mprest13

About mprest13

I am a professional at the University of Central Florida who likes entertainment, politics and sports.

Day 3 – On Drinking and Higher Ed – #100DaysofHigherEd

For today’s topic I want to stress, this is not an anti-alcohol consumption post. I like a good beer or a glass of wine, maybe even the occasional bourbon, especially after I have had a good, hearty meal. As I write this blog, I am enjoying a nice Hefeweizen at a local brewery. But I feel like there is something that we need to address as COVID starts to slowly descend past our lives and we start to come back out into the world. The topic is how much we tend to use the same enticement measures we discourage our students from using to get our faculty or staff to attend a function and that is the inevitable question, “will there be wine?”

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Day Two – What was a game changing experience for me during my career #100DaysofHigherEd

I think we all have those moments that both give you memories for a lifetime and a lesson you will take forever. In the late summer of 2005, I had one of those moments. I was an Assistant Director at Stephen F. Austin State University and I was essentially tasked with coordinating student involvement and engagement on campus. So, my main job was to advise student leaders and produce events. And myself and my staff were very good at both. We have taken a rather small student activities program when I got there in 1997 and had transformed it into a program where we produced over 200 events a year. From major concerts to homegrown game shows we had a great staff and had a lot of fun.

That changed in the late summer of 2005. The Louisiana coast had already been devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Then came Hurricane Rita and she looked like she was going to be a monster. When she started her turn north in the Gulf of Mexico and trained her sights on Texas, Rita was the strongest hurricane ever recorded. Even more than Andrew in 1992. This prompted the Governor Rick Perry to evacuate Houston. To this date the single largest domestic evacuation in U.S. history. This was just after the second largest evacuation in history in New Orleans. While most people in Houston found their way to family and friends there were many in southeast Texas who had nowhere to go. That is where we came in. The Governor ordered William R. Johnson Coliseum to be used as an evacuation site and we were rated to house nearly 2,000 people in our basketball stadium. But who was gonna run it? Well, myself and my Program Coordinator Charlie Hueber volunteered.

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Day One – A Woman in Higher Ed who is a Role Model for Me

I wanted to start off this project with a shout-out to a woman in our field whom I have always looked up to and wanted to emulate. I think it is important to show gratitude and not too long ago I had a colleague mention how she knows that she has mentored and helped many men in the field but rarely do they let her know. That women for the most part thank each other but too often men approached this work as if they are self-made. And this was not a traditional criticism. It was an outcome of a conversation on how we grow talent in higher ed and how gender roles play in this process. As we spoke I began to consider how seldom I thank women in my life who make a difference. To be fair, I don’t think being sincere is a strong suit of mine anyways. I tend to be one of two things, stoic or a jokester. Showing gratitude is honestly something I struggle with and often do not do well. So, here is am, ready to say thanks to a woman who likely has no idea I am going to name drop her today.

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100 Days of Higher Ed – A Reflective Writing Project.

One of my “New Year’s” Resolutions was to start my blog back up and to do a lot more writing, of all kinds. And while it has taken a hot minute to get started I think the time to start has arrived. I am huge fan of narrative but what I have not done is record my own higher ed narrative. How did I start, how did I get here, what have I learned? I know I am not that remarkable and quite frankly I am rather boring but I do want to create a personal history that I can look back upon one day. So I have decided to start this 100 day project. 100 topics, higher ed themed, and try to average around 750 words a day. This is on top of three other writing projects I have started. So this should be fun and test my resolve.

I got the idea from a non-Higher Ed space. Blogger Nicole Zhu had a post on this practice in 2015 and I bookmarked it. A few weeks ago I came across some old book marks and it intrigued me. Can I show the same discipline she did. She is also a great reader and posts about reading a book a week for years now. Personally, I am not quite there yet. So I crafted 100 Higher Ed writing prompts adjusted from her list because I really like the variety and personality. I think I can do it. Follow along to see!

  1. Women in Higher Ed who are Role Models for me
  2. What was a game changing experience for me during my career
  3. On drinking and Higher Ed – Conference Flashback
  4. My Favorite Movies about Higher Education
  5. That feeling that I am always behind on work and projects
  6. What would I change about my career?
  7. What my parents think I do
  8. On staying connected in higher ed
  9. Why do we Higher Ed folks have such a hard time taking a day off?
  10. My morning routine at the office.
  11. That overwhelming feeling started before COVID
  12. A story about a Higher Ed scar I have
  13. How do I answer the question, what is my favorite college team?
  14. A song that reminds me of a time and place in college
  15. Three things I want out of the rest of my higher ed experience
  16. On reducing volume and garbage in higher ed
  17. The problem with higher ed conferences
  18. What is urgent and what is important in higher ed
  19. What is my favorite article of higher ed swag or clothing
  20. The types of Higher Ed friendships and what do they mean?
  21. Administration vs. Student Affairs – when you’re a jet you’re a jet
  22. Thoughts on higher ed imposter syndrome
  23. Travel as a higher ed professional
  24. Accepting yourself as a Higher Ed professional
  25. Where am I in my current Higher Ed career
  26. Why I love College bookstores
  27. My relationship with higher ed leadership
  28. College life and Television
  29. A retrospect on my undergraduate life at East Carolina
  30. What I learned from working with multiple universities
  31. Student activism today
  32. On working with student’s families
  33. What is my favorite memory from my first year as a professional
  34. On wellness as a higher ed professional
  35. On challenging traditional tropes of academic work
  36. My favorite meal I ever had on campus
  37. The advice I would give myself at Orientation
  38. My favorite Higher Ed website
  39. On Higher Ed nice
  40. my biggest fears for the future of higher ed
  41. Things higher ed professionals are unhealthy about
  42. My relationship with HigherEdJobs.Com
  43. A higher ed book I go back to
  44. On risk management and student activities
  45. Using social media as a higher ed pro
  46. A journal article I return to
  47. How am I feeling about higher ed in the time of COVID
  48. Beautiful higher ed campuses spaces I have been to
  49. Research topics I hope to get to before I die
  50. A narrative about my first week in grad school at SIU Carbondale
  51. My uneasy relationship with college athletics
  52. The idea that to advance in higher ed is to always move
  53. Meditations on teaching
  54. Building community that does not include other higher ed professionals
  55. A time I made a mistake at work
  56. Write an email to a hypothetical university president I will never hit send on
  57. Why the student newspaper is so important and why I miss it
  58. My five higher ed milestones
  59. My higher ed best friend
  60. On missing students when you finally get the big job
  61. Emails! We have to talk about emails
  62. When I was a little M Preston what did I want to be when I grew up
  63. My favorite campus tradition and why I think they are important
  64. On staying sane as a higher ed pro
  65. Why does this work never get any easier and why do we keep doing it?
  66. Marking Time with Semesters Forever
  67. Dorm life before the internet
  68. Why Family Weekends are so much fun!
  69. We still believe in summer in higher ed
  70. What makes me nervous about this work
  71. What I like to read connected to higher ed
  72. How did I decide on my dissertation topic
  73. When will it be time to go . . . . .
  74. Why metropolitan universities are the future of higher ed
  75. Packing for a conference – must haves
  76. The most random people I have worked with on campus and why they were important
  77. Why everyone thinks I am a professor
  78. How to balance routine with spontaneity in high ed
  79. Higher ed professional addictions
  80. Five higher ed pet peeves
  81. If I could erase one day in higher ed history what would it be
  82. The most important day in the history of higher ed to me
  83. Campus means bringing an umbrella, a condom, and a bottle of water
  84. A higher ed story that always makes me laugh
  85. Getting to work early and staying late
  86. My favorite higher ed quote
  87. Goals I have for my real life away from higher ed
  88. Higher ed means never having to grow up
  89. Why writing is important for higher ed people
  90. International students and what we can learn from them.
  91. Why higher ed work can feel so lonely
  92. What was the last higher ed book I read
  93. Things I learned in college that was not on the syllabus
  94. How to stay higher ed organized – if you know how let me know
  95. My favorite hang out spot as a grad student
  96. Something that makes me uncomfortable about higher ed
  97. What thing about higher ed have I changed my mind about
  99. What have I learned about myself over the 100 days
  100. What is next?

Worldwide Suicide Prevention Day – A Personal Perspective

It has been a while since I have put some ideas down on my blog but today seemed like a good day to come back. When I woke up this morning I was not thinking about suicide. I honestly never really think about it because I don’t think I have any suicidal tendencies. But when I got to my office I fired up my favorite radio program; The John in the Morning Show on KEXP out of Seattle. Each morning if I am in the office going about my day I will stream this station. Their music mix is amazing and they are the kind of socially responsible art I want to be a part of. John is great at knowing he is speaking to a global audience and while the show is apologetically Seattle he knows we hear him in Orlando too. Continue reading

Pop Culture Blind Spots – Marvel Universe and Game of Thrones Edition

The past few weeks have been rough for a guy who cherishes his encyclopedic knowledge of pop culture. I believe I am veritable wasteland of useless knowledge and pithy opinions on music, movies, and television. I am a 46 year-old man but I got up early on Tuesday to take a look at the latest fashion on the red carpet at the Met Gala. And, like always, it did not disappoint. I am often the ringer on any trivia team. Trust me, you want me on your side when it comes to worthless barroom questions on listing movies Hugh Grant was in or what was the release year of the Clash’s London Calling. And I’m even better at sports. Want to know what happened in the 1996 NBA Finals? I’m your guy. The last five gold medalists in women’s Olympic figure skating, done. Continue reading

Gen X Chronicles – Every generation has their Saturday Night Live cast

This week on Saturday Night Live former cast member Adam Sandler hosted and it certainly had a throwback feel. From the opening monologue he had Chris Rock on the stage trading jokes. There were plenty of silly songs, the Opera Man made an appearance, and there was a skit dedicated to many of his more outrageous characters in his movies. It was, as SNL episodes go, an above average episode. And I should know, I have been watching and have watched virtually every SNL episode since I stumbled upon the Buckwheat’s Been Shot episode in March of 1983. I was ten years old and while I may not have understood every skit it introduced me to humor in a profound way. Since that episode I likely have seen 800 episodes of this Saturday Night tradition. Continue reading

Are internships really that great? It depends #500daysofwriting

For decades the conventional wisdom for students in college has been in addition to your coursework it is a really good idea to get an internship. Internships provide eager students with a window into the working world, provide valuable skills and work experience, and help the student network their way into a career. Of course these opportunities come with a price. Internships are, by their very nature, designed to be a bit of a boot camp for the interns. Students toil away at sometimes menial tasks with the hope to be included in major projects or given tasks which allow them to showcase their talent. And of course the experience can vary widely from deeply involved and rewarding to the stereotype of the intern getting coffee and the dry cleaning. Continue reading

Its Not About The Salmon, but it Kinda is

Two weeks ago I was at a major higher education conference. I was invited by a partner of the Florida Consortium to attend the conference and sit on a panel on employability and nomenclature. It was a huge success. I enjoyed working with my peers to discuss this important topic and to suggest ways business and universities can work together to create more sensible and transferrable terminology for students moving from the classroom to the workplace. But this is not a blog post about that. It is about what I experienced at the conference that now shade my feelings on higher education forever.
First, it should be noted that the conference is expensive. Participants paid over $3,000 each to attend and it was held in a city known for expensive hotel rates, higher than average airline fares, and the food is plenty expensive. I was lucky in that I did not have to pay for a registration because I was an invited speaker. So one would expect the event to be nice. And it was. Continue reading