• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.


An Easy Exemplary Moment

It doesn't take much …

February 23, 2021

A lovely moment happened on Monday that I wanted to commit to the record before it got lost in the rush of events.

Someone in a public-facing role took a moment to praise someone who works behind the scenes. The praise took the form of an email to the behind-the-scenes employee’s boss. It expressed gratitude for that person’s help in getting some important work done.

It probably didn’t take more than a few minutes to write. But it made my morning, and I wasn’t even the one being praised.

Much of the work of staff -- and administration, for that matter -- happens below public radar. It doesn’t always lend itself to display; in many cases, the only time it attracts notice is when something goes wrong (or someone thinks it did). But it’s important work, it’s hard work and it enables other kinds of work to happen.

Direct thank-yous are always good and welcome. But the thank-you to the person’s boss -- something like “I just wanted to let you know how helpful X was on …” -- is another level. And it really doesn’t take long. It sets a positive tone, rewards good work and interrupts the flow of cynicism.

10/10. Highly recommended.


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