A History of Higher Education Episode One – Jan. 1930

The Journal of Higher Education was a journal published between 1930-2013. It featured educational research, leaders, and voices in several topics related to the administration, social construct, and higher education organization. Many of these issues have been lost in time, but I discovered them about two years ago and have been fascinated with how each issue was like a retelling of our higher education story. I was also taken at how so many of the opinions and observations offered are still being mentioned and broadcasted today. It truly is Old Whine, New Bottles. This is the first of a weekly series where I will read that month’s issue and feature three of the articles I found contemporary interest in. A word of caution, some of the examples and language can be dated and complicated. So please know that I will try to address these complexities as they arise. I will offer links to the original journal listing for a deep dive because these will be short and sweet observations. So, I hope you enjoy and explore. 


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Day #51 – The Brain is Freaky! How Trivia Night is Good for Cognition

Anyone who knows me is aware that I love a good night of Pub Trivia. My wife and I currently frequent two game nights on Tuesday and Thursday. And we do reasonably well. We are Routinely finishing “in the money” and winning gift cards. Last week we finished second and were rewarded with $30 and a sense of accomplishment. My favorite game is at this local pub called World of Beer. To say I am a regular is an understatement. Let’s say I am the Norm Peterson (Norm from Cheers) of WOB. But my favorite night is Thursday, when I can play trivia. The host, Charlie, is good at developing challenging questions. His questions are as random as they can get and are often a result of whatever he was watching or thinking about that week. They can often be strung together via unexpected associations. For example, there was a question to name the capital of North Dakota (Bismarck) and Marcel Theo Hall’s stage name (Biz Markie). Get it, from Bismarck to Biz Markie. By the way, still killing myself for missing the Biz question; we said Usher like fools.

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Day 50 – How my first week in grad school shaped my management philosophy. #100DaysofHigherEd

A story about my first week in grad school. As previously reported, I attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale for my graduate program in higher education administration. I went to SIU-C sight unseen and I really think that was an interesting choice at the time. While we had internet access in 1995 there was not a whole lot of content online and learning about what SIU and Carbondale was all about, so it was taking a bit of a leap of faith. But I had a great interview, and the situation was just begging me to break free and go out on my own. So, I loaded up my Nissan Sentra and headed to Carbondale.

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Day 49 – Business is Ready for Florida, but are we Ready for Them? #100DaysofHigherEd

In the early 1960s the city of Orlando was basically a sleepy Central Florida town, in the 1920s few people had even heard of Miami, and the Tampa Bay area was known more for cigars than sunshine. Yet, over time, these three cities have become powerhouses for jobs and innovation in the past few decades. Orlando is now known for its world class theme parks and for the space coast, where you can literally watch a rocket launch in the twilight of the morning and then celebrate with a fireworks show as the Magic Kingdom ends another day. Miami is now the vacation destination for the rich and famous from all over the world and is quickly becoming a hub for technology and banking. Finally, Tampa Bay is the backbone for shipping in the gulf and is a rising star in Cyber Security. To be sure, it feels like a good time to be in Florida.

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Day 48 – Beautiful Higher Education Spaces I have been to. #100DaysofHigherEd

I must admit, I feel off the writing train. Just happened that way. I got busy, got a little lazy and just plain forgot a few days. But I am back and looking to pick up the pace. I am learning that to promise to do anything every day that is not eating, sleeping, and personal hygiene can be a bit ambitious. So, I am going to keep it up but give myself grace when I forget or just plain need a day off. I have been blessed to have been to and see literally hundreds of college campuses. It is one of the things I do when I am in a new city, it is one of the things I do when I am looking to explore a location, and I have been known to just drop by a campus if it is on the way. From community colleges to elite private universities, from urban universities to rural colleges I have found campuses to be beautiful, utilitarian, and a reflection of the place it is located. This post will focus on four campuses that I have imprinted on and have special meaning to me in very different ways.

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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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