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Counting down to my UPenn Graduation

GraduationMay 16th, 2014
“To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe. (From an introductory speech at a session of the Académie Française, December 24, 1896)” ― Anatole France, Works of Anatole France

Goodreads

Going Old School with Organization

Going Old School with Organization

I learned about the #BulletJournal when reading about design strategies in Fast Company. I am intrigued that this designer uses what he calls an “analog” system, i.e. not digital. While the concept he puts forward makes sense and seems easy, I don’t know how realistic it is. It would still require the additional step of updating a digital/dynamic calendar. However, I like the idea that there are some things – like keeping up with your list of things to do – that just cannot be done via an app or website. Or maybe it is people who have complicated schedules and/or of a certain age that find the need for an analog system. 

Preparing for Successful Life Changes

Preparing for Successful Life Changes

This fall (and winter) I am writing a dissertation. Just the idea is scary for me. While I know I can complete this task, I don’t want to do it at the expense of other aspects of my life – like my family, friends, and health. Part of what makes this process a bit nerve wracking, is that I must depend on other people to help me with making connections of various college campuses. People are doing this out of the goodness of their own hearts or from a spirit of an academe camaraderie.  I am hoping Lara’s words of wisdom/common sense will provide me with motivation and inspiration not to survive this process, but to thrive and be a better me at the end of my book.  

If the heavens …

If the heavens were all parchment, and the trees of the forest all pens, and every human being were a scribe, it would still be impossible to record all that I have learned from my teachers.
—Jochanan ben Zakkai, c. 75

Boards as Bridges – NPQ – Nonprofit Quarterly

Boards as Bridges – NPQ – Nonprofit Quarterly.

This article advocates for a mapping exercise that could help boards leverage the different connections around the table in a far more efficient and strategic manner. Too often executive directors don’t have a tangible grasp on the connections board members could make that could create partnerships that could enhance program, further the mission and provide some financial sustainability for either a specific program or the organization as a whole. This could be a great way to engage new trustees or those who don’t seem as engaged as they once were. I think this is an exercise I will try in my next leadership post if the board has not already done so.

What can we learn from the Met “unbuttoning”?

What can we learn from the Met “unbuttoning”?

Today, I learned that the Met is making two major shifts in its visitor experience. First, it will be open on Mondays! This is a very significant change for the Met, since NYC museums are usually closed on Mondays. No longer is there a day to “recover” for the staff and the facilities. The Met will now be available 7-days a week. Sadly, this exciting change was overshadowed by a NY Times article in today’s paper. Instead of celebrating more opportunities to enjoy the great artifacts and works of art from every continent and all people, the focus was about the admission buttons going away.

I will admit I like those buttons. It’s a public announcement once you descend those majestic stairs to 5th Avenue that you engaged with a sophisticated art collection that day. It’s sort of like the horse head on my Jordache jeans in 6th grade; a subtle sign to everyone that you are culturally/socially in. This may seem ridiculous, but the article speaks to this type of label identification or simply put – showing off. And several of the comments posted about the article speak to this as well.

What drove me to post this article is not the lack of social symbol I will no longer have when I enjoy a fabulous costume exhibit and sip a glass of champagne from the rooftop with friends. Or the sense of pride the third graders I took the Met this winter had when they showed off these buttons to the younger kids who did not join us on the field trip to see Warhol’s works first hand. Instead, what grabbed me were the small-minded – or shall I say small-budgeted – comments some readers posted. Many raised outraged that the cost of the buttons is only 3 cents and that giving these buttons is the least that the Met can do for the $25 suggested admission price. WOW! What people failed to do was a little math. The Met will save about $200,000 a year. I realize this may seem like small potatoes, especially since a quick Guidestar search shows the annual budget is approaching a half-billion dollars. But, what some people don’t realize is that $200K could be two junior hires – salary and benefits. It could be adding more educational programs for the children of NYC whose schools often don’t have fully-staffed art programs. It could mean three more people who work the coat check on Saturday’s and Sundays. When you have to wait 10-15 minutes to check your coat. Trust me – you start asking yourself why there are not more people working.

What the article didn’t mention was what the savings will be used for? Has healthcare reason for one of their unionized groups and this $200K will help offset the increase. Did the City reduce one of its funding streams? It reminds me that we as school leaders and trustees must explain these kinds of decisions with more context? We need to use these moments of cuts to show how some programs and associated costs have increased. Budgets are constructed one dollar at a time and we need to do a better job finding ways to explain this to our constituencies.

I admit I will miss my brightly colored M-buttons. But, I rather the third graders at PS64 get a chance to visit the MET for free instead of me getting a metal pin that I will never wear again. Yet, these kids could remember going to the Met for a lifetime! I’ll take a lifetime impact over a day of “showing-off” any day.

A Quote to Keep Me Writing

Working on my dissertation can be lonely, boring, and frustrating all in the same moment.  I’m struggling to find the “perfect” third site for my dissertation research. This Ben Franklin quote will serve as my inspiration for this week as I prepare for a meeting with my dissertation chair.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.”

In Support of Liberal Arts Education

In Support of Liberal Arts Education

Recently, I overheard a conversation between a grandmother and her grandson during a very tense lunch. She was giving him career advice and chastising him for wasting five years at Columbia by graduating with a double major in American Studies and Film Studies. Several times she shook her head and asked, “What kind of job will you be able to land?”. She continued peppering him with questions about his major choice and why he did not become an accountant like his grandfather and father had done.

I watched this young man skirm in his seat and try to explain the various internships and jobs he held throughout college. Clearly, this young grad had not just watched movies and read books for fun for the last five years. He had been working to create a profile of skills and experiences that would interest an employer, including taking one year “off” to volunteer in Haiti. Instead of working full-time this summer, he is waiting tables and working with friends to complete a documentary about his Haitian experience.

I wish this young man would have read this article that outlines what employers want from college grads. Interestingly, there was no mention of accounting skills.

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