I didn’t go to William & Mary but I spent the last 22 years learning from this fine and historic institution. I’ll be “graduating” soon. On September 12, I’ll be joining mStoner as a senior strategist. Nurtured at William & Mary, my passion for the mission of higher education will soon be more broadly directed to some of the 4,000+ colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada. I’m happy about this chance to join super talented colleagues at mStoner in work that produces exceptional communication strategy and implementation for higher education. I am also excited about discovering the ethos and culture of a college campus near you.
As I finish up my time here, I know that the sum total of what I learned in college is too much for a single blog post. There are a few standouts though as I reflect on my William & Mary “education.”
1. Colleges and universities advance knowledge.
Sure, captain obvious. Still, I think we forget about this sometimes. It matters. A campus is like a small, or large, city and there’s a whole lot going on. But at the end of the day, the point is teaching, research and scholarship. We can’t all participate in that part equally but I respect it immensely.
2. We all work to make a difference in the lives of our students.
To be successful in a higher ed job requires regular involvement in the broader life of the university. I’m not here to go to meetings, or send emails, or manage projects. I’m here to make an impact on the lives of our students. Notice them and remember they are counting on you no matter what your role is on campus.
3. Campus life is for grownups too.
It’s harder to be a snicklefritz when surrounded by bright and hopeful 18- to 22-year-olds. Observe the activity, the intensity, the rhythm. Clear your head by a walk around your version of the Sunken Garden. Feel the energy and fun of campus traditions or annual events. Be influenced. We all do better when we take ourselves a little less seriously.
4. Faculty are different when interacting with students.
I’m married to one so I know first hand that you can’t spend 5+ years preparing for an academic career and then, at will, turn off the critical thinking and the willingness to wrestle with complex issues. When a professor goes to a committee meeting or participates in a discussion about governance, you get the whole package. But have you ever directly observed a professor with a student? They are focused and caring and deadly serious about what they do. That’s what matters.
The bottom line? College has a transformational effect. It changed me and I’m ready for what comes next.
William & Mary, I learned from the best and I salute you. Hark upon the gale.