You’re Behind

I spent most of last week at a conference with about 500 other deans. I have a love-hate relationship with conferences. The networking is good, but the sessions tend to disappoint. They always have great titles, but little of the content in them that’s new. You leave feeling a bit cheated.

I was expressing this frustration to a friend when he commented–“if you are learning something here, you are behind.” He’s right. By the time it makes it to a conference, it isn’t new. It’s state-of-art. If you haven’t already adopted it, you are behind. The better way to learn is to go visit people you meet at conferences that you know are innovating and land an invitation to go visit them. Go see what they are doing live, while it’s developing without all the “marketing” that tends to go with conference presentations. You get the real story much quicker and can learn from their mistakes. Then return the favor, extend a visit to them, show them what you are up to and ask for them for feedback.

In a year or two, they will be asking you and your friends to make that conference presentation to let others know they’re behind.

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The Promotion Fairy

The best part of my job is when I get to tell faculty that they got promoted.  For tenure- track faculty, this is a high-stakes game.  If you are an assistant professor and don’t get promoted to associate professor in six years (about half of all new hires), you are looking for a new job.   If you do get promoted,  it is like getting an equity stake in the firm–your colleagues believe you are worth keeping around, value your insights and contributions to teaching and research. They believe that we are better as a college with you than without you.  If you make a second promotion to Full Professor, it is a sign that you have a national reputation as an expert in your field and are someone who can be relied on to mentor others and help set the direction of the department and college.

Promotion is the end of a long process that starts with letters from accomplished scholars at other big name schools critiquing what you accomplished and then goes through a number of committees at the department, college and university level that vote on whether your work merits this reward.  Department chairs, deans, provosts and university presidents also get a say.  In the old days, lots of trees died in this eight-month process. Now its all done electronically.  Our clinical faculty go through a similar process although it doesn’t involve external review and life-time employment isn’t on the line.  Usually, once it makes it through to the provost and president, it is pretty much a done deal although technically it still needs board of trustee approval..

So, when I get to tell people they made it through the university (or they didn’t) and the decision is just waiting for board approval , I do it in person.  This year, I got to tell lots of people they made it. Lots of smiles ensued as I made the rounds, shook people’s hands and let them know how proud we are that they are a part of us. So, for the record–  Professor Pradeep Bhardwaj is being recommend to promotion to Full Professor.  Professors Yu Tian, Sami Alpenda and Craig Crossley are being promoted to Associate Professor, pending board approval.  Dr. Ray Sturm will become our first Senior Lecturer, Jeff Reinking an Associate Lecturer.  Lynda Dennis, Lonny Butcher, Scott Buckstein, and Chis Leo are all being promoted to Associate Instructor.   We continue to expect great things from all of these folks and are grateful we get to call them our colleagues.

Charge On…

Failure Competition Finals!

We have reached the finals of our failure competition!  This year, we have a final four. They are: Kirk Carmichael, Nicole Faust, Rachael Maurcus, and Stefan Williams.

We will feature one video each day over the next four days.  Then you can vote on Friday for the winner.  The poll will open just after midnight and close promptly at 5 pm on Friday, so make sure you vote before then.   Good Luck everyone.

Finding Gratitude Outside Your Comfort Zone

No single person is more responsible for the great partnership we have with FAIRWINDS Credit Union than Garry Capton.  Garry is the reason FAIRWINDS sponsors The EXCHANGE.  He is a huge champion of the culture of engagement we have here in the College, the importance of financial literacy and the need for students to put their knowledge into action.

So, I was pleased when he finally agreed to appear at The EXCHANGE as our featured speaker. Garry has a job few students even know exists. He is Vice President for Community Relations and President of FAIRWINDS Foundation where he invests in a wide array of projects. I knew Garry would have an interesting perspective to share with students on how to prepare for life after college, especially here in Central Florida.  But he is also a very humble and unassuming guy.  He would much rather work quietly behind the scenes than be seen as the front-person on any project. To get him to The EXCHANGE, I had to agree to interview him. It was as far out of his comfort zone as I thought he was willing to get.

His talk on Friday didn’t disappoint. In fact, he surprised me a little with his last piece of advice for students. In a moment when I knew Garry was outside his comfort zone, he said: “Volunteer because it gets you out of your comfort zone, leads you to interact with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet and makes you grateful for what you have in life.” I must confess I hadn’t thought of volunteering as an exercise in getting out of your comfort zone or getting to know people who are different from you — both things we preach regularly in the College. But Garry is spot-on here, and he identifies a rather easy way to practice these skills, because people are always looking for volunteers to help do good work. Finding gratitude in the process doesn’t hurt either, although I wonder if it, too, is usually found only outside your comfort zone… hmm…

Thanks Garry.  Good stuff.