The many faces of academia

I am a life long academic and this week I have faced just about every facet of academic life.

My MBA classes have started up again. I’m taking my FINAL two classes this semester. I cannot express how great that feels. A very interesting man is teaching my “Visionary Leadership” class. It appears that while we will read a few books that focus upon techniques used by extraordinary corporate leaders,  the real focus will be on our own personal growth and development. Our major project is to develop a very detailed 5 year life/growth plan. I expect to enjoy my professor tremendously as his key core values: integrity, excellence and growth/learning resonate with my own. My second class “Strategic Management” is taught by his wife (and business partner). It sounds like they have had and continue to have an amazingly fun and productive life. It looks to be a good, if challenging, semester.

I gave an exam today for the class I am currently teaching. I will need to curve it. The mean was only 80 with a range from the high 50’s to several 100’s. The students generally either did very well (90+) or poorly (<75). Obviously, I’m communicating the material well to a small subset of the class. I need to capture the rest. Teaching improvement remains one of my largest “works in progress”. Due to a tragedy (you might have caught the detail before I deleted the post & comments earlier this week for privacy reasons) experienced by a student, I learned that my University has free bereavement counseling and some extraordinary personnel who will intervene for students who have experienced traumatic life events. While we don’t have a policy of “free A’s”, we do have a substantive support network with incredibly skilled and caring people.

In my role as an administrator, there were meetings, many meetings: hiring, firing, budget planning, media relations, seminars, development planning, regulatory compliance, etc.  This job remains a tremendous learning experience.

In my role as a scientist, I am truly blessed with good staff. The deadline for my grant update to the government is coming soon. It’s very important that we be able to tell the government that a paper on our work has at least been submitted within the last grant cycle. My head technician informed me this week that she has coordinated her schedule with her husband. He has agreed to be the primary caregiver to their son so that she can work overtime and get this done. The work we will submit is largely hers. She is eager to take a stab at writing the first draft if I will assemble the data and figures for her.  With her dedication we may just make the deadline. I am so incredibly fortunate to have enthusiastic, dedicated, self-motivated, and reliable people in my laboratory.