New beginnings.

13590270_10103364426733820_5248952781808075244_nAugust 21, 1995 was the first day of the fall semester at Iowa State University. In addition to being the beginning of a great academic year, it was also the first day at Iowa State for the inaugural class of students in the Hixson Opportunity Awards and was my first day as director of the program.

It has been a joy to welcome twenty-one classes of Hixson Scholars to this amazing university. Iowa State has been a fantastic place to work and I have loved being part of such a dedicated community of students, colleagues, and alumni.

I will step away from my daily role with the Hixson Program at the end of July to become president of the National Student Exchange consortium. I am lucky to continue as a member of the Hixson Program Advisory Board and guest speaker in Hixson Seminar.

My dear friend and assistant director, Allison Severson, will take the reins of the Hixson Program. Allie joined us as a grad student in 2010, and then full time in 2011. She will become director of the Hixson Program and Iowa State NSE on August 1. Allison is the perfect choice to lead the third decade of the Hixson Program. Our students will be in good hands.

Join us to celebrate on Wednesday, July 20 from 2-3:30 PM in the Hixson-Lied Student Success Center atrium. There will be cake!

It’s not only a national debt crisis

Helping students understand how to effectively manage student loan debt is a bit of a project for me. I spend much of my professional work counseling first-generation college students, most of whom have high financial need. I have shared my views on the student debt crisis here, here, and here.

Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus present some excellent alternative plans for lowering student costs in higher education by encouraging students to choose community colleges and state institutions.  And although I disagree with their portrayal of unscrupulous financial aid officers when describing the individuals at my own institution, I do not doubt that they are out there.

The next subprime crisis will come from defaults on student debts, starting with for-profit colleges and rising to the Ivy League. The parallels with housing are striking. In both, the written warnings aren’t understood, especially on penalties and interest rates. And in both, it’s assumed that what’s being bought will rise in value, in one case the real estate, in the other the salaries which will accrue with a degree. One bubble has burst; the second is already losing air.

Little things

Some days it’s the little things. Like discovering that you packed extra underwear when weather delays your travel leaving you stranded far from home. Or when you get an email out of the blue from a student you have not heard from in a while.

I’m writing to thank you and the Hixson program for all that you have given me.  Not just the class, the opportunity to be a seminar leader or the scholarship money, but also the staff. Yesterday, I was in the student lab doing a little homework when your graduate assistant came in and I had a really great talk with him, just about how our semesters were going.  Anyway, it makes me really appreciate the program and especially the people surrounding the program.

 

image by Charles M. Schulz

New socks. Two socks. Whose socks?

There are some days that throw us off balance. How we react to those days is how we define ourselves.

We are in the midst of a One Week of Twitter assignment in our first-year seminar class. This is my favorite tweet of the week (so far).

May you wear no socks in the shower today.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go



Congrats to our new Hixson Scholar graduates and everyone else celebrating their academic achievements this month. Special props to one of our 2004 award recipients, Tyler Dohlman, who just completed his DVM.



But the unfortunate, yet truly exciting thing about your life, is that there is no core curriculum. The entire place is an elective. The paths are infinite and the results uncertain.

~Jon Stewart (2004 commencement address to The College of William and Mary)



So…get on your way!




photo credit Christopher Gannon/TheRegister

I’ve gotta feeling…

There was a day last week when my work day began at 5:45 a.m. with a two and a half hour drive to a meeting and concluded fifteen hours later in a final class meeting with our very talented peer mentors. And I was smiling. Because on days like that, I’ve gotta feeling that I have the best job in the world.

Little Engine That Could





April is what it is in Student Affairs.
Without doubt, it is one of the most challenging thirty day stretches
that those of us in the field face annually.



A holiday, one campus festival, and an out of town soccer tournament.


I think I can, I think I can.


57 graduation notes to send.


I think I can, I think I can.


Three budget forecasts to review.


I think I can, I think I can.


Two graduate assistants to hire.


I think I can, I think I can.


Two annual reports to complete.


I think I can, I think I can.


One birthday party to plan.


I think I can, I think I can.


562 scholarship applications to read.


I think I can, I think I can.


One research paper to write.


I think I can, I think I can.