A New School Year

Can you believe it? School has started. Welcome weekend is over and now it is time to buckle down and get to work. Yesterday the Business Department met with the new students and we will be seeing all of the returning students in our classes today. We had seven of the nine instructors for this semester involved yesterday, and I have to say our department rocked it. A great level of energy in the room, and the fresh new perspective of having the additional faculty involved was incredible.

I have a lot of hope for this new year. Our HCA professor will be teaching Economics also, which will give her a larger exposure to our students. I know the business and SE students will enjoy her style and her knowledge.

The Accounting professor is beginning to see how Accounting, framed within social justice, can change the world. I think all of us in the department are beginning to see that framing our business classes within the larger context of positive social change is important. This is the unique Warner Pacific perspective.

As I said over and over yesterday, I believe in the power of business to change the world. This change can be either good or bad based upon how we frame the activity. The activity of business is the same no matter what type of organization one is involved in. Therefore, technically business programs teach the same things. However, if business can create positive social change then we much frame the activities of business within the larger context of said social change. This is the why of teaching business at Warner Pacific College.

This is why we have created a new program, in its second year, around Social Entrepreneurship. We have fifteen students in the SE 101 course, and nine in the program from last year. Not bad for a new program, and based upon the questions yesterday, there is an incredible amount of interest in the program, students just don’t know what it is.
Our new SE professor has a very high level of energy. This was obvious yesterday and good. I think it actually pushed us old folks to be a little more animated. I look forward to seeing how this new instructor will impact the SE program. I think she is going to do an excellent job, and will have a great impact on our department as a whole.

We have a new law professor this year. He teaches for us in the adult program, and I think our students are going to love his style. I would love to move this class away from the 8am time slot, but at this point in time there is a need to accommodate the instructor’s schedule, thus the early time frame. We’ll see how students respond to the new person.

BUS 101 has always been a course that is interesting and challenging. We have a new instructor and we have a new text and strategy. We are now framing the course as foundational to the whole program. I think the person we have teaching this course will do this quite well. I am looking forward to seeing what happens with that course this year.

As I stated yesterday was an exciting start to the school year. I really needed to just think through what happened and reflect on it. I do plan on blogging a bit more. It is time to get back to work.

And that is my thought for the day!

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An Integrative Education

Well, the summer is almost over. Before you start yelling at me saying it is only August, the school where I teach starts a week from Monday. I am developing new syllabi, preparing my Moodle course sites, and getting ready for welcome week. I can feel the tension already building. I do believe it will be an exciting year.

There were several events that motivated me to write this blog tonight. The first involved the August graduation on Saturday. I had the distinct privilege to provide the invocation and hood the Master students. The second involved an article in Saturday’s Wall Street Journal. And third, was a Parker Palmer book entitled “The Heart if Higher Education: A Call to Renewal.” Let me walk you through my thought processes.

I was discussing the number of students currently enrolled at my college with the director of enrollment. We have the largest first year class coming in next week in the history of our college. I am pretty excited about that, but I want to make sure we are going to give them an excellent education. I really agree with Palmer when he states that education is holistic and nourishing. I really like how Parker Palmer describes this, “But we also seek forms of knowing, teaching, and learning that offer more nourishment than the thin soup served up when data and logic are the only ingredients.”

As a businessperson, I understand the importance of data. However, I also believe in the importance of being thoughtful, creative, and human. Often business is viewed as a science more so than an art. I am not too sure I agree with that. Again, Palmer does a great job of exposing the human side of science. “I have long been impressed by the fact that science itself – great science, depends on bodily knowledge, intuition, imagination, and aesthetic sensibility, as you can learn from any mathematician who has been led to a proof by its elegance.”

James Smith wrote in the WSJ on Saturday about the first year students who are arriving at college, only to be indoctrinated by the time they get to their second year. The students who arrive for their sophomore year have changed. They have lost the open eyed wonder of learning, and have replaced it with a sense of enlightenment. Smith states, “ It’s not just that you’re a year wiser, you carry the air of newly enlightened. Your curiosity has hardened into a misplaced confidence; your desire to learn has turned into a penchant to pronounce, as if wisdom were a race to being the quickest debunker.” Instead of having your minds opened and thirsty for knowledge, it has been closed through the process of indoctrination. I hope this is not the case with our students. I hope we are doing what Palmer describes as “uncovering and empowering the heart of higher education in those faculty, administrators, students, alumni, and trustees who have a vision for reclaiming the unrealized potentials in the human and historical DNA that gave rise to academic life.”

Integrative education is critical for the future wellbeing of our country. Teaching students how to fill out spreadsheets and not telling them why the spreadsheets are important leads to anemic education. Teaching students how to manage an organization, and not teaching them about he ethics of Jeremy Bentham, Immanuel Kant, or Alasdair Macintyre, will lead to a less than stellar leader. Teaching business students about how to make money and not telling them about the right and wrong of how it is done will lead to more companies failing ethically in our society. Education needs to be holistic.

For the reasons mentioned above I think a Christ-centered, Liberal Arts institution is the perfect place to teach students about business. The spiritual foundation is importance, as is the liberal sense of freedom, all of which works hand in hand with the technicalities of a discipline to produce a student that is a critical thinker, creative, innovative, and a problem solver. I think pretty highly of our students at Warner Pacific. I think our strategy of engagement, enactment, and creating strong business partnerships is a winner. One that will help us produce an incredible student that will make a difference in the world.

And that is my thought for the day!

A Discussion On Leadership

Yesterday we had a Business Department meeting to kick off our new semester. I facilitated the meeting, and I did some things well and some things I did not do well. I liked the collaborative environment, the ability of faculty to be autonomous, and collective decision-making. However, I don’t think I did well demonstrating Moodle. It is a great instructional tool for organizing your course. The events of the day did get me thinking about Leadership.

I think a good leader is constantly looking at themselves for areas of improvement. I think this is an important characteristic born out of the desire to lead an organization to higher levels of performance. However, I also think that a leader needs to keep passion in check. There is no need to get too upset, or even too excited, about events trusting the process to get the organization where it needs to go. In this case I see I am exercising more of a coaching leadership style instead of a directing style. I think this is in line with some things that Thomas a Kempis mentioned in his book, “The Imitation of Christ.” A Kempis stated, “The proud and the avaricious man are never at rest; while the poor and lowly of heart abide in the multitude of peace.? Ok, I don’t see my self as too prideful, but I do recognize the importance of lowliness of heart, being humble. Collins calls this a level five leader who leads through a combination of humility and professional will.

A Kempis makes another very good comment, “But if, on the other hand, he yield to his inclination, immediately he is weighed down by the condemnation of his conscious; for that he hath followed his own desire, and yet in no way attained the peace which he hoped for.” Yielding to passion, and A Kempis is talking about lust, will not set one free but only affirm one’s bondage. Thus a leader needs to keep a level head and push forward.

Why is it important that a leader not be too passionate, or too much of a director? This type of leadership allows for a sense of individual freedom and autonomy. You want people to be able to make decisions for themselves. If not we enter into a totalitarian environment that destroys initiative and innovation. A new movie, which is showing this weekend displays the hopelessness of totalitarianism. The Giver, which is another in the long line of movies dealing with similar subjects as Hunger Games, opens today and portrays a society that sacrifices “human individuality in the utopian pursuit of sameness.” As I read the review on this movie, it reminded me of the short story Harrison Bergeron. In that short story the government had ensured that everyone was equal. Those who wanted to enjoy an independent thought were fitted with shock equipment that would measure the thought patterns within the brain, and when there was a creative thought, the person would be shocked. That society did not want difference.

Raymond Floyd in this morning’s Wall Street Journal discussed the losses of a so-called utopian society. He wrote after seeing The Giver, “As the lights came up after the screening of the Giver, my thoughts were on Poland and communism, but soon they turned to the broader subject of totalitarian regimes robbing individuals of their God-given rights. So often, one of the first jobs of the totalitarian is to declare that God is dead and that government is the final authority on truth and justice.” Ultimately this is leadership that is directive eliminating creativity and individual thinking.

I don’t think that is real leadership. Leadership is not making sure everyone does things exactly the same, although there does need to be some consistency of process; leadership allows people to perform at high levels by encouraging individuality, creativity, and autonomy.

And that is my thought for the day!

How To Handle Pressure!

Today’s blog will be a little different. We are now in August, and school is right around the corner. Decisions must be made, students transferring in and transferring out, and old faculty leaving and new coming in. All of these thoughts woke me from a sound sleep at 3:30am. I did go back to sleep, but only after rising at 4am, reading for a bit and then going back to bed at 5:30am. Oh how I dislike that process. Like most of us it usually occurs on Sundays.

The question then is how does one handle pressure? In any occupation pressure is a reality. You have someone that does not like you, you have looming deadlines, or massive changes that need to be accomplished. How does one put their nose to the grindstone and methodically deal with each of those things that need to be done? Maybe I have answered my question by writing these words.

Dealing with pressure is like dealing with a plethora of items that need to be accomplished. You address them one item at a time. When I was in college taking multiple classes, I had to structure my time in a way that I could prioritize what needed to be accomplished by due dates. So maybe that is one way to handle pressure. Organize you time, deal with requirements prior to the deadline, and ignore the tyranny of the urgent.

I do remember telling myself to enjoy the process of college. However, I would often get caught up in the desire to just be done. I did the reading, wrote the papers, but often it was not for the learning but for the grade and getting er done. The lesson then, I think, is enjoyng the process more. Then I would get more enjoyment out of whatever it is I am trying to accomplish.

I think I feel the pressure more when there is a deadline and I am behind schedule. That seems to be the problem right now. Summer is winding down, I tried to stay away from the school as much as I could, but there is just too much going on. Therefore, I half-heartedly did summer stuff and work stuff. Not a good way of dealing with either, thus adding to the pressure.

Now it is August 5th and school starts the 25th, and there is so much to do. I am going in today and tomorrow, and then we go camping. We are heading to Ashland, which is our usual last trip of the summer. It I usually a wonderful time, but it is also a bit sad. Winter is right around the corner. I must keep a positive outlook.

Handling pressure means keeping a positive outlook. It means staying on top of things. And it means enjoying the process. I know I can handle pressure, I just need to reengage and enjoy the road I am on. A little short, sweet, and cathartic blog today!

And that is my thought for the day!