Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Weaving Together Communities

Yesterday, I orchestrated the first faculty development day for my new campus.  Overall, I was pleased.  Let me capture some insights from a morning of faculty development and the day that followed:

--The refreshments were a puzzle to me.  I thought we needed more coffee, but I didn't want to wait the half hour that the shop told me it would take--so I got one of those coffee carriers (waiting 15 minutes for it to be ready) and made a pot of coffee on campus.  Apparently, I am not with a group of coffee guzzlers, as we had coffee left over. We had 15 RSVPs--how many bagels to get?  I got a dozen savory and a dozen sweet:  most of the sweets were left.  So, I'm on a campus of savory bagel eaters.

--Faculty came in for faculty development, even though they are technically on vacation.  And they were engaged, and they left with new ideas they wanted to try--a successful day.

--We heard about a campus administrator who had a passion for beach clean up, and so, each month, he gave students one or two opportunities to participate in beach clean up events--and that campus had the highest retention rates it has ever had.  Mind you, this campus did not focus on ecology or environmental issues--most of these students would graduate to a career in the health fields.  But keeping them engaged in the larger community also kept them engaged at school--at least, that's the way it looks at first glance.

--I wonder if any research has been done in this area.  Would it need to be the same community project or can the community project change throughout the year?

--I still have one English class to staff on a Wednesday night.  Friday, I wrote to a woman who was once an adjunct for me in a different school; she asked if she could forward it to some of her adjunct groups, and of course I said yes.  But I knew that classes were already over, and so I didn't expect many responses.  Oh me of little faith.  By Monday morning, I had at least 10 e-mails from interested people.

--Yesterday was also the first day of having a chair of Allied Health on my campus.  Yesterday felt like a hectic day, the kind where I focus on what I didn't get done--hence, this post, so that I remember that I did get much done.  I want to make sure I remember this fact:  our Allied Health students will have a much better chance at a positive student experience because he's in charge of the department.

--As I think on yesterday and days like yesterday, I think of knitting--or is weaving a better metaphor?  I am most drawn to activities that will knit or weave a diverse group of people into more of a community.  And on that note, off I go to another administrator day of doing just that!

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