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?**
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.
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!
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.
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.
In the movie Back to the Future 2, an aging Biff visits his younger self and presents him with a sports almanac. The almanac presents all the future winners for all sports. Biff uses this information to go on and build a gambling empire and becomes the core plot of the sequel. Now, lets set aside the fact that we already know that such books are likely not published in the future since all that information would be on a Wiki or ESPN.Com but go with me on this one. What I am interested in is, if I could get into the DeLorean and kick the flux capacitor to get me back to good ol’ June 1991 what would I tell the 18-year-old version of Michael Preston? What advice at Orientation would I give that new student, from an academic and career perspective?
Higher education has afforded me several opportunities in my career that I would not have been able to do otherwise. I have traveled the entire country, I have met friends from literally all 50 states, I have been able to connect and diversify my friendships in ways that is just not possible anywhere else. And then there is the food. I must admit, one of my favorite things about this job is the food. Be it a pizza party with students or a 5-star restaurant with friends there have been moments in my career I will treasure forever, and they begin with food. Food is one of the great connectors in life. Like music it transcends language and culture. We tend to forget differences and we often take chances with our meals. Is that a little spicy, lets give it a chance! This is a post about food.
I have been thinking a lot about higher education and its future recently now that we are looking more and more like we are slowly inching out of the COVID crisis. In the past year, the way and how we have delivered higher education has made many of us who think and work in this space to take stock as to what do we keep and what do we cast off in this post COVID world. And I have an idea. It is controversial so I apologize in advance if I ruffle your feathers. We focus on reimagining higher education as an essentially a learning park. Think of approaching higher education in the same way that Walt Disney World approaches tourism and we work to deliver a higher education experience that is both predictive and responsive to data in a way that is almost effortless. Stick with me here.
I think it is a bit ironic that this post is supposed to be about personal wellness in higher education, and I am currently trying to rally from a bad sinus infection to be at a presentation for NASPA, and this is the second time I have done this. NASPA is my national learning conference of choice and it is usually during the month of March. I have been going to NASPA since I went to the 1997 meeting in Chicago and save a few years I rarely miss. This is even though each year it usually falls primetime during the height of allergy season for me. If I am being honest, not many bothers me except seasonal allergies. I am rarely sick, and I can tend to handle everything. But there is this small window of time each year when my sinuses decide it is time for me to take a break and keeps me in bed for a day. Unless I must be at NASPA.
Photo Copyright; Photography by JR, https://jasonreina.com/ I first began my journey as a full-time higher education professional in the summer of 1997. 1997 was quite a year for me. I graduated from the Higher Education program at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, that May I got married to my wife (we are now 24 years in), and we moved to Texas where I started my job as the Program Advisor at Stephen F. Austin State University. In April I had been hired on the spot at SFA after a great interview. It was the last interview in a series of interviews that included Notre Dame, Coker College in South Carolina, and Lyon College in Arkansas.