Sometimes You Have to Use Vise Grips

On Friday August 22 we will be rolling out our Professional Development initiative in earnest at our Welcome to the Majors Event.  This effort represents a substantial change in direction for student services and is meant to be at the foundation of the culture of engagement we are building in the College.  We expect more than 1200 students to attend and as you might guess, we have been planning for this day for the last few months.

Last week, emails went out to all of the students enrolled in the course describing the Welcome to the Majors event, what they had to do to prepare for it and that their attendance was mandatory.   Despite listing this course as face-to-face, we got some push back from students who see us as a “lecture capture institution.”  A typical email to Lonny read like this one:

Hello Lonny Butcher:

I have one year left for classes and when I switched my major from Accounting to Finance, I was told that I had to take 4 GEB classes that were added on to our graduation credits…..I work a full time job Monday thru Friday and told my advisor that I would not be able to attend the event on August 22.  I was told these classes wouldn’t be meeting and that is why I enrolled in it.  I set up my classes where I can take them in the evenings at 6 pm after work.  I cannot meet in the morning between 10 and 11 am.  What can we do to go ahead and fix the situation?

Lonny forwarded the email to me, expressing dismay. He rightly pointed out that somehow the student believed that her inability to attend was our problem and that we owed her a “fix”.  I commented to Lonny that in bending the culture from one of convenience to one of engagement that sometimes we are going to have to use vise grips.  This apparently was going to be one of those times.

Engagement isn’t optional in the College of Business anymore.  I know it is an abrupt change for some, but it is a necessary one. Hopefully in another year, a student like this will be sending an email to their employer rather than Lonny explaining that the Welcome to the Major event is just something no student wants to miss..

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