What is your 5-year plan?

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 6.19.17 PMHappy 5th Anniversary to the eighteen and life blog! Thank you for popping in now and again to see what is on my mind and for offering words of encouragement. As I think back over the last half decade, I smile to think of the new friends in my life and the completion of major projects.

For your reading pleasure, I have gathered a few articles that you may have missed over the last week.

University of Kentucky using student data analytics to improve retention rates.

SMU created this video on why to consider a grad program in higher ed. 

Interesting piece on class-sourcing as a teaching strategy.

A study showing that college faculty are increasingly using social media.

Brutalist architecture style on college campuses.

Twitter becoming more popular with teenagers.

PS. Also, wishing Happy 1/2 Birthday to my dear daughter!

Campus Speaker: Instant Communication

Tom Krieglstein shared a blog post last week featuring this Urban Speaker, an outdoor art installation by Carlos J. Gomez de Llarena.  It was intended to offer an instant stage for public communication.

I shared with a colleague that having my own urban speaker, or Campus Speaker, would be quite handy as my office overlooks a major residence hall thoroughfare.

Things I would share on my Campus Speaker:

Hey, you! Walking through the landscaping! They call it a sideWALK for a reason!

Hey, you! Please use the crosswalk! You are becoming a retention risk!

Yo! You on the motorcycle! SLOW DOWN! This is a residential area!

And today I could add things like, “Congrats to the Cyclone Volleyball team for sweeping Iowa in three sets!”

What would you share on your Campus Speaker?

Laws of Physics and College Transition

There is an amusement park near my home that has one of those lose your lunch inducing rides that spin faster and faster until the floor drops out. It leaves you stuck to the wall until the ride slows and you gradually resume your footing on solid ground. The science of this phenomenon is centrifugal inertial force.

My university is welcoming 4,356 new students to campus as we begin the fall semester; colleges across the country are welcoming thousands more over the next few weeks. Imagine the inertial force as these students navigate classes, new roommates, and campus cultures that are frequently in contrast to their personal experiences.

Now, imagine your campus as a giant spinning disk with a student planted firmly in place by centripetal force, moving along the curved path of the disk, going with the flow. All is fine as the student survives residence move-in, deciphers a schedule, and maneuvers the dining center. But soon the campus disk is spinning faster and the centrifugal inertial force can become greater than the centripetal friction force holding the student in place. A failing quiz grade, roommate argument, financial difficulties or homesickness can all be triggers to send our students flying right off the college ride.

As we in student affairs greet our new students and those who are returning, it is important that we keep these laws of physics in mind. Know what resources you have available to address student concerns. Advocate for your students when university networks are difficult to follow. Listen carefully for clues that a student may be struggling.

Understanding F = mv2/r may just save a student.


Twenty-five cent coins met their demise in our Residence Halls several years ago when laundry room washers and dryers moved to digital payment via student ID cards. Students no longer hoarded rolls of quarters before moving to campus or worried about jammed coin dispensers. Now students are able to monitor machine availability and check if the wash cycle is finished, all via the internet.

Quarters used to equal the gold exchange rate in the residence hall. How will students shed the dreaded first-year fifteen if not running up and down stairs to check the nuclear baking cycle of the dryer? Will student engagement suffer when no one is negotiating over the next available washer? Sadly, it appears quarter status has been relegated to drinking game only.