Message from the Dean - September 2012

How the Dean Got His Groove Back

The 1998 film How Stella Got her Groove Back is based on the book by Terry McMillan.  In the book and film, Stella is a highly successful, forty-something San Francisco stock broker who is persuaded by her colorful New York girlfriend Delilah to take a well-deserved, first-class vacation to Jamaica. As she soaks in the beauty of the island, she encounters a young islander, Winston Shakespeare. His pursuits for her turn into a romance that forces Stella to take personal inventory of her life and try to find a balance between her desire for love and companionship, and the responsibilities of mother and corporate executive.

At the end of the school year, I too lost my groove and I was wondering how to get it back.  I was so focused on trying to stay strong for everyone else that I sort of forgot about me.  Although I wish I could have flown to Jamaica for some rest and relaxation, I decided that I should focus on what I enjoy best in order to reinvigorate myself. 

I enjoy movies and reading.  I joined the public library and began reading for pleasure once again.  I also love independent films; and although I have been missing many due to my work schedule and unavailability of the films in local theatres, I decided to rent them and view them at home.  I found what was necessary to get me back in the groove and because of this I had a restful and productive summer.  I know when I say this people find the phrasing restful and productive as oxymoronic. I found that if you clear your mental space of excess consternation through relaxation and resolution, you will be amazed at the mental capacity left to do other things.

I too hope each of you have found your groove as we launch this new academic year.  My role as the dean is to assist you in eliminating barriers so that you can concentrate on teaching, service, and scholarship.  In order to stay focus, you must find your groove and to stay vigilant towards your goals.  I encourage each of you to look closely at the College of Education’s Strategic Plan and to find affinity amongst its contents.  If you are planning a course, writing a grant, soliciting funds from a foundation, or planning collaborative research opportunities, use the strategic plan as your guide so that your efforts are not isolated, but a part of the fabric that will move the College toward premier.

As you rediscover your groove, here is some advice from an article that the leadership team read this summer.  The article is entitled, Creating an Esprit-de-Corps Culture by Margo V. Porter.  She states that in order to retain the best, create a workplace that inspires new ideas, encourage professional curiosity, and invigorate employment engagement, we must:

  •  Measure results
  •  Map our career paths
  •  Link our job’s to the institutional mission
  •  Have opportunities to perform well at challenging work
  •  Make a long-term commitment

I have found my groove. In finding my groove, I am recommitted to investing in you, our most critical resource. In hopes that you will move us forward as we prepare our students to educate, serve, and lead.