Observations: Enjoy Working on a College Campus

I recently read a post about some hate filled mail a fellow blogger received. Reading the post got me thinking about the last month or so at work. My conclusion: there are a great many things I like about working on a college campus (and wish I could continue doing so, if that whole eating, paying bills, etc. thing wasn’t an issue). So, in the last month, I have:

 1) chatted about meditation with a psychology student of unknown faith, including Buddhist, Sufi, Zen, Christian, and secular methods (for a philosophy paper).

 2) discussed pirates and ISIS with a Somali Muslim student (someone else started the conversation somehow, I came in for the tail end; all parties reached the same conclusion).

 3) discussed the Epic of Gilgamesh with an Ethiopian Muslim student, including the dangers of applying modern monotheistic biases to interpreting ancient polytheist stories and cultures (particularly regarding the essential nature of divinity; for a history paper).

 4) worked with an Israeli Jewish student and Palestinian Muslim student back to back, with them chatting amiably between sessions (turned out they were classmates, knew each other, and worked together often in class; composition classes).

 5) discussed the Iliad and Greek mythology with a Hindu doctor (MD; after looking over his philosophy paper).

 6) discussed early Christian philosophy (Augustine, Aquinas) with a student of unknown faith.

 7) worked with students from: various states in the U.S., China, Korea, Iran, Palestine, Israel, India, Somalia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina, Jamaica, and parts of Eastern Europe.

And before that, two of my more memorable class moments and students:

 1) A Sikh student from India who was just plain awesome to talk to before and after class (upper level composition class).

 2) A Christian (?) Marine vet fresh back from Afghanistan. There, he was involved in combat missions for the majority of his tour. He was also the first person in the class to speak up against disinformation regarding Islam and atheism, defending both repeatedly and respectfully (composition 1 class).

Open Letter to Universities, or Hire Me

This is my application for the office of president of any university or college in the U.S.

Why would I be a good choice for president of your university? I have been teaching and tutoring for over a decade now. I have held positions at a state university main campus, a state university branch campus, and a community college. On the other hand, I have never held a university administrative position. I have never been a provost, vice president, dean, or department chair. I have never been particularly comfortable in suits or an office closed off from others. In fact, I am more comfortable in jeans and a dress shirt having a packed lunch in a room full of students. I am more comfortable walking campus, seeing and being seen by students, staff, and faculty alike. I take my undergraduate college president as an example here, he took pains to meet every incoming student, taught a bit every semester, and greeted every student he saw on campus by name (and asked about their projects). I think those are positive qualities in a university presidential candidate.

Let’s face it, really that is the kind of president you need. Three decades of rapidly expanding upper administrations and administrative salaries has not worked. The “business” of the university is higher education, not higher administration.

If hired, I foresee a common sense budget. I have lived on one since I turned eighteen, so recognizing one is not a problem. First, I see reducing the president’s salary. Second, cutting redundant upper administrative positions (vice presidents, provosts, deans, and such). Third, I see taking a long, hard look at coaching salaries, particularly in comparison to the actual income of sports programs and in comparison to teaching faculty salaries. Fourth, I see taking a hard look at construction budgets, particularly those projects that only affect the school’s appearance or only benefit the administration, not the students. Given that these four areas tend to be the largest percentage of school budgets, I foresee a significant reduction in operating costs.

Finally, I lead by example. This is something that I learned in Scouting and that comes naturally. Reducing the operating costs of the president’s office should be relatively easy. For example: is travel necessary? If so, there is no need for a private plane or even a first class seat. The same goes for accommodations, a hotel is a place to sleep or briefly relax, not a place to live, and expensive restaurants are a waste.

In short, I think I would be a good candidate for president of the university because career upper administrators are not working. It is time for someone who lacks aspirations to a corporate CEO’s life to take the reins.