Out and about but not quite there yet

Laura Huenneke

The weeks leading up to commencement are a busy but wonderful time of year. My calendar has been filled with award ceremonies, scholarship breakfasts, grand openings, celebratory banquets and luncheons. I’ve enjoyed connecting with faculty, staff, and students at these events, and visiting some of our diverse departments and facilities.

In particular, it’s been very useful to get back into some of the academic settings in which colleagues work, interact with students and carry out their research or creative work. Sometimes when I’m sitting in the provost’s office, it’s hard to envision the actual places and not see only lists and spreadsheets of scheduled classroom improvements, or construction projects, or deferred maintenance needs.

Occasionally people express to me their desire to see other administrators get out and about campus much more, staying familiar with the places and the conditions “out there.” But it’s not clear how best to achieve this—administrators wandering around classrooms and offices are sometimes viewed more with suspicion than welcome. And a casual visit might not offer a true sense of a place or the interactions that occur there.

This past semester, I’ve scheduled times in campus dining and coffee shop locations for casual drop-by visits or conversation, but relatively few people have come by to talk. I and other administrators enjoy invitations to department or college events (though advance notice is always appreciated). I’d welcome any other ideas you might have about how to connect us more closely to the campus and the environments in which you all are working.

Cline Library, Ardrey Auditorium and the Lumberjack Mathematics Center