Defense Against the Dark Arts: The University’s Last Lecture


I’m an insider, but an outsider.  As a PhD student studying higher education, and as someone who has worked in colleges and universities his entire life, I’m completely comfortable in the classroom and in being surrounded by students.   This semester, however, I’m an immigrant in a foreign land.  I’m taking a course in the business school, MI621: Social Media for Managers.  It’s not that I don’t work in a business, I do.  I just don’t speak the exact same language.  I, like many other academics, hold on to the belief that the university is somehow a special and unique kind of business.  It has a unique purpose and unique goals. How can the pursuit of knowledge for knowledge’s sake be reduced to market forces?
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The Future of Student Affairs in Six Minutes and Forty Seconds at #ACPA13

stopwatch1We’re nearing the 2013 ACPA National Convention, and I’m excited to be gearing up for a unique presentation with some of my favorite colleagues.  In a previous blog post, I outlined and explained what the “PechaKucha” presentation method entailed.  Now I want to share what myself, Ed Cabellon, Patrick Love and Kristen Renn have been cooking up!  Just prior to the convention I’ll share some more resources and a twitter hashtag for those of you how may want to participate from home.


Four presenters at various stages in their careers were given the task of pondering “the future of student affairs.”  Addressing this theme through four short PechaKucha-style presentations, presenters will each speak over a series of 20 slides that automatically advance every 20 seconds.  The topics include: Student Development Theory for Cyborgs, Ignore at Your Own Risk: Serving College Students in For-Profit Institutions, Why Unconferences are Better than This One, and Marketing: An Emerging and Urgent Competency in Student Affairs.
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Is the Quarterlife Crisis still real? Or was it ever?


I teach three spring semester Advanced Practicum courses to students in Boston College and Merrimack College‘s Higher Education Masters programs.  One of the readings I like to assign for the first class is a selection from Robbin and Wilner’s Quarterlife Crisis: The Unique Challenges of Life in Your Twenties.  Although the work has a few outdated references (it was published in 2001), I’m amazed at how the concept of the “quarterlife crisis” continues to resonate with my students, many of whom fall into this twenty-something range.  Admittedly, the quarterlife crisis refers to an experience for students with a certain degree of privilege, but for my masters-degree-pursuing students, it seems to fit relatively well.

The following is an excerpt from the book about what the quarterlife crisis is:
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PechaKucha is Coming to the #ACPA13 Convention

figure skating fallI am excited to be a part of brining an innovative new type of presentation style to this year’s ACPA National Convention in Las VegasMyself and some of my favorite colleagues (Ed Cabellon at Bridgewater State University, Patrick Love at Rutgers University, and Kristen Renn at Michigan State University) will be presenting a series of PechaKucha presentations.  As the Convention gets closer, I’ll share more details about what we’re cooking up, but just to tease you a little, we’ve titled the session “The Future of Student Affairs in Six Minutes and Forty Seconds.”

So what is PechaKucha?

PechaKucha (pronounced peh-chach-ka) is the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat.”  In February 2003, Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham devised PechaKucha as a presentation style that involves a presenter speaking over a 20 slide presentation set to automatically advance the slides every 20 seconds.  As a result, each PechaKucha presentation is exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds.  Witnessing a PechaKucha for the first time can be an exhilarating experience.  Kristen Renn likens it to watching a figure skater go for the triple salchow.  The presenter must get their timing exactly right in order to sync up with the automatically advancing slides.  Will they make it?  Will they stumble?  Gasp!
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The Newtown Shooting and Why I Choose to be a Student Affairs Educator

iStock_000004317277SmallAs the details of the Newtown elementary school tragedy begin to come out, it’s caused me to reflect on my own experiences and calling as a student affairs educator. I work with a very different population of student, but the kinship I feel with the teachers of Sandy Hook is very much the same. I choose this profession because I want to help others. I choose this profession because it allows me to better the world through the students with whom I interact. I choose this profession because it places me in the company of colleagues who unselfishly give of themselves in service to others.

In this line of work, one gets an up-close look at the diversity of human beings, from the sublime to the tragic. Each student comes with their own successes, their own challenges, their own gifts, and their own struggles. This diversity is what makes human beings beautiful while at the same time so flawed. Being a student affairs educator allows me to bear witness to this and help others in a intimate way that few others will have the privilege of experiencing. When working with students, their successes become your successes. Their tragedies become your tragedies. Much like I’m sure the teachers of Sandy Hook felt and feel towards their students, my students become, in a sense, my children. Although they’re emerging adults, the care I give them is unconditional and, although they’re emerging adults, they sometimes need help like any human being does.
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