In a November 12 post I outlined a plan to create a career readiness plan for my college. The plan could include granting internship credit for jobs students already have as a compliment to the traditional internship model of sending students out to new assignments. Does anyone know of any examples I should investigate? Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

Last week I attended the 2013 annual meeting of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS). It was great to meet up with old friends, meet new people, and generate new possibilities to try back in our home institutions. Two panels in particular gave me hand cramps from writing a long list of ideas:

Advancing the Career Opportunities of Liberal Arts Graduates: Best practices and strategies for working with multiple constituents to articulate liberal arts skills set and value.” This session will foreground the exigency of and outline possible methods of establishing partnerships with multiple constituents in order to enhance student, faculty, administrative, and community understanding of the skill sets acquired in liberal arts degrees, as well as methods by which liberal arts graduates can showcase those skills and their particular talents. The ultimate goal is to engage participants in a discussion of the exigency and possible methods to enable placement of liberal arts graduates into non-profit and for-profit corporations at better rates and with more ease.

Career Preparedness and the Liberal Arts: On-campus partnerships and initiatives.” Significant pressures have been placed on institutions to demonstrate that their students can compete successfully for jobs upon graduation. Liberal arts colleges are especially prone to negative assessments of their students’  career prospects. This panel focuses on ways that deans can work with their faculty, staff, and other campus stakeholders to develop institutional support and structure to promote career preparedness. The panel will address successful partnership strategies with various campus units to improve the role of professional advising; develop a college-wide career curriculum; collaborate with offices of career services; and incorporate internship, coaching, and shadowing programs.

I outlined a plan to enable students to better understand career pathways while building strong social scientific and liberal arts skills through high impact learning practices in curricular, co-curricular, and extra-curricular activities. Today I asked my department chairs to discuss the draft, and we will further develop it in collaboration with an external advisory board of community leaders as well as with other units in the university. Possible practices to include: a mentoring program where recent alumni connect with students in person and online, and an internship program built around students’ existing jobs. I’m looking forward to the discussions!

As I write I am supposed to be on a plane to Jacksonville, FL for the CCAS Annual Conference. The first leg was delayed several times due to problems with the inbound plane, and when it finally got in the air it had to turn around due to additional problems (!). At that point a colleague and I had to re-book our flights since we would miss our connection in Atlanta. The colleague — a fellow dean in the U of Wisconsin system — called the UW system travel agent while I used the Delta iPhone app to rebook. I was done in 5 minutes, while the colleague was on the phone for awhile, and then had to stand in line to confirm the seat the agent arranged. I was also able to pick a later flight after seeing that the next flight included a long layover in The ATL; I decided to make the 30-minute drive back to my apartment to catch up on work, and also to use my desktop computer to walk through steps with an online Delta agent to fix a problem with my TSA Pre-Check, which did not work on my first visit. (Agents at the gate and at ticketing told me that they could not fix the problem.) One drawback in leaving the airport: I lost a rock star parking space right next to the door to the terminal. Oh well, it’s a small price to pay for not having to sit around in airports for several additional hours….

A big component of faculty life for many professors is attending academic conferences. I rarely attended them, as I focused on writing academic articles directly instead of creating conference presentations that would later lead to articles. As a dean, however, it seems that I will be attending quite a few leadership conferences. Last week I was in La Crosse, WI for a meeting of arts and liberal studies deans in the University of Wisconsin system, tomorrow I’m off to Jacksonville, FL for the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences annual meeting, and in two weeks I’ll fly to San Francisco for the Learning Resources Network (LERN) annual conference. Whew!

Today marks the end of an era: it’s the last day that iGoogle pages will be available. iGoogle is a personalized home page for web browsers, and I’ve used it ever since it was launched in 2008. I glance at it several times a day, to keep track of news, tweets, and Remember the Milk tasks. Tomorrow I’ll have to find a new source for keeping all of these items on one page. Two of the leading replacement contenders are Protopage and Netvibes, but I don’t love either option. Anyone have other suggestions?

Over the weekend I had my first experience with Airbnb, an “online service that provides a platform for individuals referred to as ‘hosts,’ generally private parties, to rent unoccupied living space and other short-term lodging to guests” [wikipedia]. My mother-in-law wanted to rent a house in Philadelphia for seven people to share while in town for a wedding, and she asked her daughter (my wife) to make the arrangements. On the positive side, Valerie reported that it was very easy to search for housing and to make a reservation, and my mother-in-law had no trouble getting the keys and gaining entry at the start of the reservation. The house was clean when she arrived, and the owner left documentation about operating essentials (such as the Wi-Fi password!). On the negative side, it felt very weird to be in a stranger’s house for a couple of days, and I slept horribly each night. Of course, in many cultures it is perfectly normal to spend time in a stranger’s house — and it is also an everyday occasion to take in strangers — but I have to say that I prefer to stay in hotels or with friends. I’m glad that I tried the concept, but I don’t think it’s for me.

As I discussed in blog posts on June 10, 2013 and September 10, 2013, I am a big proponent of living-learning communities (LLCs), and was looking forward to working with one here at UW-Parkside. Alas, the Exploration LLC did not receive enough applicants, so it is not running this year. In the meantime, I’ve started work on a new LLC for African American male students, modeled on the Huntley House LLC. The co-proposer and I are designing “Fearn House” to build community and connectedness for African American males and provide opportunities for personal and academic growth in a supportive atmosphere to ensure their success in college and beyond. Students will have the opportunity to explore issues of ethnicity, identity, and leadership, while receiving vital academic support and actively participating in and contributing to campus student life. Participants may be from any college within the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Fearn house is named in honor of Isom Fearn, Jr., the first African American graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. For 32 years Mr. Fearn served as the Director of the Access Opportunity Program at the State University of New York at Geneseo, which provided academically and economically disadvantaged students an opportunity to attend college.


In a past life I was an engineer. While getting my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering in the late 1980s at Georgia Tech I enjoyed my liberal arts classes much more thoroughly than my engineering classes. I know, that should have told me something back then…I analyzed those years as a component of my memoir. Today, though, I’m thinking about the importance of receiving a well-rounded education given all sorts of calls for a narrower focus on STEM education. Here on the UW-Parkside campus, for example, the building floors are labeled D1 and D2, and L1 – L3. I recently learned that the “D” in the D1 and D2 designation stands for “down.” It seems that while L1 is considered to be the main level with a busy pedestrian walkway, D1 is “down one floor,” and D2 is “down two floors.” That made perfect sense to designers and engineers in the 1960s, but maybe if they had consulted others they would have realized that this system is cumbersome. (“If D2 is down two floors, is L2 up two floors? Up 2 floors from L1? Wait, that would make it L3??”) Or maybe they should have been required to take more liberal arts classes…

When I became a department chair in 2007 an adjustment was getting used to having some letters from me actually be written by others. A related adjustment as a new dean will be to have speeches prepared by others. First up is tonight’s scholar and donor recognition event. At 7:00 I’ll be prompted to say “Hello, my name is Walt Jacobs, and I am the founding dean for the newly established College of Social Sciences & Professional Studies. What makes a UW-Parkside education so special is our deep connection with the community and the employers that seek high quality talent to sustain and advance the economy and quality of life within our region. It’s my great pleasure to join you this evening to help highlight some of this year’s outstanding scholarship recipients. The following presentation provides a look into just how meaningful and important our efforts to provide engaged learning opportunities are to our students and community.” OK, I can do that!

A big component of a dean’s life is attending meetings. For the most part I enjoy them, especially ones that have an agenda and are efficiently conducted. (I’m writing this post in an extra 30-minute block I have today when a meeting ended early!) Last week, however, for the first time I attended a type of meeting I don’t like so much: a reception for visiting guests where you mingle in a small space with a plate of finger food, having short conversations with folks (mostly people you already know as usually there is a throng around the guests). I was actually supposed to go to two receptions last week, but was excused from the other one due to personnel problems that required an immediate response. Hhhmmm, maybe I should stockpile other personnel issues to be dealt with when other receptions are scheduled?