I just returned back to campus from a three day conference in Baltimore - the national Faculty Athletics Representatives Association held its annual meeting at the Hyatt and FARs from across the country and across the three NCAA Divisions gathered for some professional development and sharing of new ideas. We received updates from the NCAA on all aspects of college sports and it was a very worthwhile time - I did "skip" one 45 minute session so I could "explore" the waterfront in Baltimore but other than that one quick trip, I really didn't get to see much of the city. We did have the best crab cakes I have ever had for dinner the first night so I did learn something about Baltimore - they DO know how to make crab cakes..... It was good to spend time with the other FARs from the NE-10 (SMC's athletic conference) and with the FARs I had recently met in Indianapolis at the leadership institute. Sharing ideas with colleagues is something that definitely is a plus these days as academics and athletics sometimes can compete against each other rather than working/collaborating WITH each other. Many of us will be getting together again in January at the NCAA National Convention in San Antonio, Texas. This is where the legislation that we discussed this past weekend will be voted on by all of the members of the NCAA. D-II is the only Division that has recently cut back on the number of competitions and the only one that has worked to ensure that there IS a BALANCE between academics and athletics - this is one of the priorities of D-II and we take that very seriously....
While I was gone, I only missed one day of classes. Fortunately, Chris Clary who is the Director of Career Services for the College agreed to come to my Theories of Counseling class to assist my students in developing an accurate, appropriate and "reviewed" resume. Chris had been with this class earlier this semester when she interpreted the MBTI (personality inventory) for my students - I was pleasantly surprised at how eager my students were to have Chris back in the class - they ARE learning that they will all soon have to have that great resume ready as they graduate. My Sports Psychology class had their third paper due on Thursday and since I utilize eCollege - an online classroom management tool - I was able to see when papers were turned in. I was on campus this morning grading some of those 3rd papers and again, a pleasant surprise that the level of writing has clearly improved over the course of the semester. It is rewarding to see that my students actually DO learn that spelling, grammar and punctuation ARE important and what pleased me more was the very high level of critical thought and analysis that I have seen in the papers I have just graded. They ARE challenging themselves to "think out of the box" more and they ARE taking risks in expressing their own critical thinking as they combine that with their knowledge of psychology. Nothing pleases me more than to have someone tell me that they "have never thought about that before." - I will work on the rest of the papers this week but so far I am very pleased with their progress.
We had another panel on campus last Tuesday evening as two of the officers of Common Ground, their advisor, an Ally who is also a RA and I spoke to almost 200 students for about an hour. We were invited to participate in this panel by the Student Association and Shiobhan Lavery did a great job of being the MC for the panel - we discussed ways to help ensure that Saint Michael's College IS a safe place for all of our students and that THIS community values everyone and that we celebrate our differences rather than to shun those who are different, for whatever reason. Yes, another reward that we all get from teaching at, working at or attending classes as part of this community - thank you to the other panelists and to all of the students who were willing to challenge themselves and some of their ideas..... Well done.
I did manage to go kayaking again this past Wednesday - it WAS cold (34 degrees outside) but it was probably the last day of kayaking for me this year - I find kayaking to be so relaxing and peaceful and have been able to convince a number of my students about this so they too have begun to follow a new interest in kayaking. The snow on the mountains in the afternoon sun looks like gold on Mt.Mansfield as I look across from behind the chapel - always a beautiful sight. I also got my snow tires on the day before the rain, ice, sleet and snow hit here for a few hours - it is ALL in the timing.
While in a couple of airports the past couple of days I saw a number of soldiers in uniform - since it was Veteran's Day last week, it is always good to thank them for their service - they sometimes seem a bit embarrassed but it just feels good to let them know that we DO appreciate their service to all of us. So, please take care, be well and keep all of the members of our military and our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers.