Presidential Blog – December

As I write this blog, I feel the stress of several competing demands. There are research papers to finish, final grades to enter, student assessment reports to complete, faculty development requirements, and the list could easily fill this entire blog. We all do this same dance at the end of each semester in academia, but when you add in the holidays, the pressure feels greater.

This week I was hiding in my office when a former student stopped by to see me. As the student sat down, I began making a mental to-do list so that I could prioritize all the “important” items in front of me. The problem is that I was missing what was happening in front of me. There, in my office, was the reason I wanted to be a professor—the opportunity to invest in students.

Faculty members must constantly balance three primary goals: teaching, research, and service. Sometimes we don’t balance those goals well. Talking with my student that day made me realize that I need to practice being present. I don’t want to miss what’s in front of me because I fear not finishing everything I need to do.

So, as you wrap up your semester, I hope you take the time you don’t think you have to talk with your students. We have the best job in the world because we’re investing in people. Professors have the rare privilege to watch students change before their eyes as they learn about communication. I can think of no better way to dedicate my life.

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