A student at the University of Guelph attempted to take his own life while 200 online strangers watched. Experts on campus mental health worry about the student -- and the potential impact of the footage.
Recently, I had lunch with a group of women who had moved to the upper levels of leadership in higher education. As is usual when such a group gathers, we talked about some of our more “challenging” moments as the first women provosts, deans or presidents. But this time, the stories were about team-building experiences that didn’t quite work when a woman was added to the mix.
One dean recounted the weekend retreat she was required to attend at the president’s cottage, where after a day of activities, everyone was expected to join the others... in the hot tub, which makes for an awkward splash if you’re the only one wearing a two-piece. Another woman described the “bonding” day her executive vice president led that involved a race with her colleagues in the equivalent of bumper cars. And still another described a hunting and fishing expedition more akin to a men’s sweat lodge.
Each story left me wondering: with the increasing mix of men and women in prominent leadership roles, is something lost if institutions of learning have to adjust their informal interactions? Do the guys no longer feel free to be, well, guys, if a woman is suddenly in a cabinet meeting? And is that a bad thing? I don’t think so.
When I first went to graduate school, a wise senior professor commented one day on how glad he was that more women were in his classes. “It had started to feel too much like a men’s club,” he announced. Similarly, another colleague once told me that a member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet had remarked how relieved he was not to be in a “men’s club” any longer, now that Thatcher was around. In other words, the presence of women — or I should say the presence of women and men together — moves things up a notch. It makes men grow up.
Or put in a more ladylike way, groups of mixed gender encourage more professional interactions to the benefit of all. Such professionalism allows everyone to develop more balanced lives where colleagues are expected to be just good colleagues, and faculty then see mutual respect modeled. Sure, some may become friends, but that’s not the point. And maybe it frees the men from having to join in the hot tub as well!
In fact, the potent combination of women and men in campus leadership together challenges old school thinking. It counteracts men’s tendencies to invest everything in their work because when women lean in to opportunities of institutional advancement, men are also required to become partners at home.
And when both contribute in leading both a university and a home, each benefits. Men gain the freedom to develop a rich set of relationships in and outside academe while developing a fuller range of human and emotional experiences, made more possible with the presence of women. And for women, the university begins to recognize — and affirm — the existence of a life beyond the classrooms.
With women now leading more at higher levels of academic institutions, both the workplace and personal lives can shift, allowing us to form real partnerships in the process of negotiating our ever-changing realities. Rather than creating unhealthy dependencies or enabling behavior that responds only to rigid cultural expectations — like the “guys' clubs” can do — both discover a new freedom to grow as human beings. As one author put it, “The difference between the equal sharers (co-parenting and dual career) and other couples was not that mothers cared less, but that fathers cared more.”
So when women “lean in” at the academic leadership table, that is, when they advance in their scholarship and campus leadership roles, men begin to care more about their children and others, not less. But when we don’t collaborate, women and men alike tend to work under the assumption of stereotypes perpetuated by the popular media and the unfortunate data of lopsided gender roles in higher education, rather than enjoy the range of gifts that each individual can contribute, man or woman.
In short, we rise together. At another “bonding” retreat for leaders, I once played the game where two individuals sit back-to-back on the floor. We had to lean into each other, exerting equal pressure, in order to stand. It’s a good metaphor for what can happen when men and women also rise to yet greater heights and health. A woman doesn’t hesitate to lean in and a man meets the challenge because they need each other to get off the ground. We rise together when each exerts the same amount of pressure, benefiting students and faculty alike. And when that happens, I suspect the stories will be much different at the next lunch gatherings.
Janel Curry became the first woman provost at Gordon College in 2012. As a cultural geographer, she has served as a professor, chair and dean in higher education for over 30 years.
California is falling behind in its ability to provide higher education to its state's citizens, particularly those who enroll outside the elite public and private universities found in the state, according to a report released Tuesday. "Boosting California's Postsecondary Education Performance," from the Committee for Economic Development, reviews the financial, economic and demographic challenges facing the state's colleges and universities and finds that much of the stress is on access institutions that most students attend. Given limited chances for significant infusions of new funds, the report suggests that new ways of providing education will be key. "Without quantum increases in educational access, productivity, and effectiveness of the state’s postsecondary institutions, particularly those with broad-access missions, there is little likelihood that California will have the human capital to compete successfully in the global economy or assure its citizens access to economic prosperity and a middle-class life."
A former administrative employee admitted in federal court Monday that she stole more than $5 million from the Association of American Medical Colleges, The Washington Post reported. The woman was fired when the graft was discovered. Authorities said that she created bank accounts with names similar to those of groups with which the AAMC does business. She then created fake invoices for those entities, paid the funds to the accounts and had access to the money.
Submitted by Ry Rivard on November 26, 2013 - 3:00am
The president of 2,700-student Sul Ross State University resigned, the Texas State University System announced Monday.
Ricardo Maestas had been president of Sul Ross since 2009 and has been reassigned as a special assistant to the system chancellor. No reason was given by the system for his resignation. Quint Thurman, the provost at Sul Ross, will be interim president while the system begins an immediate search for a new president.
The Texas Tribunereported that “parents and community members have continued to raise concerns about Maestas' leadership, particularly his lack of responsiveness to questions about the treatment of student athletes and financial management within the athletic department.” Last week, the news organization said, Maestas let go of the football coaching staff.
Sul Ross has a main campus in Alpine, a town in West Texas, and three satellite campuses collectively known as Rio Grande College.
A Maryland appeals court has turned down a challenge to the right of Johns Hopkins University to develop land it purchased at below-market rates in 1989, The Baltimore Sun reported. The family of the woman who made the deal said that she never would have done so unless she believed the farmland would never be developed. But the appeals court said that the university was within its rights to develop the land into a research park.
Princeton University has been facing an unusual outbreak of meningitis cases in recent months. In recent days, two other campuses have reported meningitis cases. Monmouth University, like Princeton in New Jersey, has reported that an employee is "gravely ill," The Star-Ledger reported. Across the country, three students at the University of California at Santa Barbara are suffering from meningitis, the Associated Press reported. More than 300 students who had contacts with those who are ill have been given antibiotics.