Because you can’t predict what’s going to happen next.

The reason I love William & Mary and the reason that I’m planning to spend the rest of my career in higher education are one and the same. The opportunities presented by a college or university campus are unpredictable and they sometimes connect you to the unexpected.

How else do you explain that for the past few weeks my inbox has included email messages from Emilio Estevez? Granted, the message were forwarded to me by a W&M professor who was corresponding with him. But still…

Here’s more on this example that supports my claim that with a career in higher education, you just can’t predict what you’ll be involved in doing. And, frankly, that’s what keeps me interested.

A couple of months ago, W&M Professor George Greenia showed up in our office. He hoped we would do some creative for an event he was planning. Once we heard the details of the event, there was no doubt; the answer was yes, we’ve got it covered.

Who would have predicted that Hollywood stars Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen would screen their new movie, “The Way,” February 18 during a Workshop on Pilgrimage Studies co-hosted by the College of William & Mary and Georgetown University? The opportunities for W&M Creative Services included design for a postcard invite, a website, a souvenir program booklet, a poster, and a presentation slide that was a backdrop when the film wasn’t running. Stephen Salpukas shot this photo at the event and you can see more here.

Martin Sheen, George Greenia, Emilio Estevez (photo by Stephen Salpukas)

Professor Greenia wanted to host a small conference on a topic central to his own research and passion. When he learned that Sheen and Estevez were screening The Way, he suggested the Pilgrimage Studies Workshop. Boom. Next thing you know Professor Greenia is involving his campus in an invitation-only event with star power.

Now opportunities like this aren’t unique to William & Mary. Maybe it would be a slight exaggeration, but I think this sort of thing happens every day on college campuses. Why? Because the diversity of interests, concerns, goals, commitments, priorities, viewpoints – all the things that keep us from acting like a corporation – produce a rich and unpredictable environment. Yes, it’s maddening when we spend weeks building consensus about something that in a private concern would be done by fiat. But I’m pretty sure that in any other kind of organization, I wouldn’t have shaken hands with Martin and Emilio.

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Author: susantevans

Susan T. Evans is director of corporate and foundations relations at the College of William & Mary. She is a proven strategic leader with deep expertise in advancement, communications, brand management, marketing, digital strategy, technology, administration and organizational development. She is known for creative and strategic approaches to challenges within higher education, nonprofits and business.

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