Day 47 – Remembering Higher Education’s Middle Kids – #100DaysofHigherEd

I am not very private about my upbringing. If you are a friend of mine, you know that I grew up in some desperate circumstances. The child of teenaged parents, I grew up mainly lower income. For a few years there we were outright poor. Neither of my parents went to college and they both worked hard at labor intensive jobs. My mother was a waitress, managed a bingo hall, and found career success at Costco where she worked from an hourly employee to a warehouse manager. My father worked at a gas station before enlisting in the Air Force. He struggled in the service and had many bouts with substance abuse. He was discharged and was homeless while working odd jobs. My brother and I lived with him for a time in a camper trailer in Pinetops, North Carolina. We have enjoyed the world of social services, the free lunch program, and I spent most of my childhood being a caregiver to my brothers. My dad drifted for most of his life but managed to keep the lights on and rent paid.

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Day 46 – Zen is Hard to Come by – #100DaysofHigherEd

Zen is hard to find. So today is April 16, 2021. I am 48 years old and in 639 days I will turn 50. For those of you who are already 50, I have watched your journey and know this is not an easy moment in life. As we grow older the reality of our time here and the quality of it become more paramount and real. The trivial things of the past seem less so now, and we live our lives with a mix of regret and pride. There are lots of things we did well, and there are lots of moments we wish we had back. According to a 2019 study reported on by the Huffington Post over 90% have at least one major regret in life. Most commonly this regret is over a lost love, a career path not taken, or that we wish we had spent more time with someone or our family. However, when asked about their life in totality over 60% of us say that have no regrets about their lives. I take this to mean that in context, our lives are pretty good, but we do have our moments of regret.

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Day 45 – The Culture of Fear and an Abundance of Caution – #100DaysofHigherEd

The Culture of Fear and an Abundance of Caution

This is not really a higher ed post. Here in Florida the stories are common. Swimmer goes to the beach and instead of getting some sun and sand, the person gets bit by a shark. Here in Florida, it is almost always a blacktip shark, and the injury is limited to a few bites on the lower leg. Certainly, alarming but almost never fatal or even more than a few stitches and a great story. Yet, when surveyed one in four Americans say that a fear of a shark attack has kept them from going into the water. And Florida is the capital of Shark attacks. Each year Florida accounts for 30% of all global shark attacks and nearly 60% of such attacks in the U.S. And it makes sense. We are famous for our beaches. Each year nearly 70 million people flock to one of our beaches and every Floridian lives within 75 miles of a beach. It is the best! But the news stories and the fear result in about three beach closures a year from a shark attack. You know, out of an abundance of caution.

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Day 44 – On Risk Management – #100DaysofHigherEd

It was 1997, I had not been working at Stephen F. Austin State University for a month and I faced my first major risk management issue. We produced a summer carnival for students to let off some steam during the summer school session. It was a typical set-up. A small stage with a couple of local musical acts, food including pizza, hot dogs, you know, carnival food. We also have field day type events, including some inflatables. One of these inflatables was a “obstacle course” that we have all seen many times over. Now, the day was going well. Overall, everyone was having a blast even if it was a bit hot, being East Texas in July.

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Day 43 – A Book I Keep Going Back To – #100DaysofHigherEd

One of the central tenets of working in higher education and our work is the concept of lifelong learning. As educators we believe that learning only really stops when you do. From the moment we are born we find ourselves absorbing and consuming the world around us and making sense of it. We also continuously seek knowledge. No matter the topic one of the higher education defaults is to go out and see who it writing, thinking, and publishing on the idea or problem to be addressed. It is actually one of the most fun parts of my job. Taking the time to apply the kind of research and critical thinking skills I was taught in college as a student are a hallmark of my work and passion for students.

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Day 42 – What Zillow and have in common – #100DaysofHigherEd

As higher education professionals we love a good job search. One of the things I miss the most about not getting to NASPA the past two years is all the who is where doing what chatter. While you can still get that via Facebook, it just hits harder when you are in the exhibit hall and you connect with that friend and she mentions that so and so is not working for that university you always coveted. The conversation usually goes something like:

Friend:  Did you hear about Jason?

Me:       No, what is he up to I have not seen him in a minute?

Friend:  Oh, he is the new VPSA at regional well-respected university.

Me:       Oh really? Well, good for him.

** Logs into HigherEdJobs.Com afterall if Jason can get said job what am I doing?**

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Day 41 – On Karoshi, Higher Ed, and Eating Stress – #100DaysofHigherEd

In 2013 a 31-year-old journalist in Japan just died at her desk due to heart failure. Her name was Miwa Sado and she died after logging over 150 hours of overtime in a single month. And she was not alone. In 2013 over 3,000 workers in Japan died from what they call Karoshi, or death by work. This death can happen in several ways. Typically, it is a death by completing suicide but many times it can manifest itself in other ways like heart failure, kidney failure, and chronic system failure due to malnutrition or fatigue. Recently the global pandemic has allowed the country of Japan to reimagine their famous dedication to work. The government there has explored mandating time off for overworked employees, more flexibility in the workplace, and a greater dedication to a more balanced work and life existence. Who knows how much they will be able to change this culture but the acknowledgement is important.

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Day 40 – The thing we don’t remember will hurt our future – #100DaysofHigherEd

I love the history of higher education. I believe there is much we can learn from it. Today’s post was supposed to be what I fear most about the future of higher education and it occurred to me that I have already written on this. But more because I like to write about the past of higher education. I have a theory, or more a thought, and that is futuristic organizations will often fail because they misunderstand or ignore their past and traditionalist organizations will often fail because they adhere to their past too rigidly. And I believe colleges and universities are in a really precarious position because they tend to do both. In many ways they forget to look back to see what lessons are there moving forward and they also refuse to change as the world changes around them. You cannot drive a car in drive and reverse at the same time but higher education is trying their best to do so.

This article first appeared in the Journal of Campus Activities Practice and Scholarship, produced by the National Association for Campus Activities and it was written with my friend and colleague, Darren Pikul from Florida Atlantic University. We hope you enjoy it and it makes you think. Also, visit the journal and read some of the great content there. There is a lot of practical information and advice along with well developed ideas and themes. Enjoy!

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Day 39 – On Being Nice – #100DaysofHigherEd

In the south there is a saying and it basically goes, “Bless their heart.” It is basically code for, get a load of this guy or serves as the nicest insult in the English language. As Southerners we are taught from a young age that being nice is often more important than being right. That arguing, even when done respectfully can be rude and, as my mother put it, “just ugly.” And I think this is a way of thinking that is pervasive with many of our higher ed colleagues. The term “Higher Ed Nice” is a thing, and it can be a bit of a misnomer.

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Day 38 – My Favorite Higher Education Websites – #100DaysofHigherEd

Higher Education are some of the most innovative folks who work in just about any space. Just about any technological or theoretical innovation is embraced by higher ed leaders with speed and voracity. We are truly early adopters. The same holds true for information. We love to report and disseminate the latest findings and ideas. And we love our websites! I have my blog. So, I wanted to do a fairly short post of the five websites I hit up often. I often go to these sites at least once a week and I am into each one for different reasons. I often look for ideas in three areas: news and policy, data and research, and cool advancements.

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