Monday, February 15, 2016

AVP: Leading from the unique role of Associate/Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs

Always good to read a book for my professional development – on the job reading!  The book is called AVP: Leading from the unique role of Associate/Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, edited by Amy Hecht and Jason Pina.  It is a good introductory read for anyone who is moving from a directorship position in student affairs (Housing, Career Services, Multicultural Affairs, etc.) into the #2 position working directly for a Vice President of Student Affairs.  Each chapter is written by a number of student affairs professionals who provide their personal journeys on the road to or through the Vice President position.  The first chapters capture what it takes to be a great AVP, from competencies necessary to expectations.  The next chapter follows the progression from being hired, what it takes to be successful in the first 30, 60, and 90 days with some helpful tidbits/nuggets of common sense to do the job well and connect to the institutional mission, division goals, and the networks of staff/students who you will need to get to know.  There are some redundancies throughout the book on the supervision piece, managing multiple areas of the division, and ensuring you serve your VP well.  Other focus areas within the book include: navigating politics in the role; human resource management; managing fiscal resources (a 101 version in my opinion); and creating a work-life integration model.  The last chapter was helpful to reinforce eating healthy, integrating a daily physical exercise regimen, and get enough sleep into one’s life.  The only piece I completely disagree with is the idea that the higher you move up, the less interaction you have with students.  I maintain, and always will, that is a personal choice one makes in their life.  If student interaction is something you value, build it in!!!  Chapter 9 focuses on maximizing the role, how to stay motivated and remaining effective.  This was probably my favorite chapter of good solid take-away ideas to be successful.  The last chapter followed the paths of five professionals who landed an AVP position and moved on to VP.  I was much less interested in this chapter, ho-hum good for them, not sure how it was helpful for current AVPs…  Overall a better read for newbies with some self-reflective exercises to keep one thinking about your development.  Pretty quick book to finish with a few nuggets and mostly common—sense, oh-yeah, that is true statements.  NASPA produced book.  Oh yeah, and always fun to be reading a quote that you provided to one of the authors!  Thanks JPK!  

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Buried Giant

I know… what am I doing reading books on Valentine’s Day?.. Well, it’s been too long since I have had the chance to read some good books!  Today I finished a book by one of my favorite authors, Kazuo Ishiguro, who wrote Never Let Me Go (a RA Book Club read), this time it is The Buried Giant.  The book is set in medieval times, soon after the era of King Arthur, as one of his strongest warriors, Sir Gawain makes an appearance in the book.  The story focuses on a married British couple, Axl and Beatrice, who decide to leave their homeland in search of a son whom left their home years ago.  The couple’s memory has faded as the years have transpired, and also due to the she-dragon’s spell, in this case the mist that the dragon spreads among the valley.  Axl and Beatrice set out on their journey and come to a village of Saxons and are joined by a young boy (Edwin) who has been bit by something and the community is afraid the “disease” he now seems to carry will spread to them and his companion warrior Wistan.  The journey to find their missing son includes battles, secret passages, a boat ride that almost drowns them, and a glorious escape from the priests on a mountaintop.  A final battle ensues between Sir Gawain and Wistan to determine who will slay the evil she-dragon.  Wistan prevails!  With the elderly couple close in proximity for the battle they begin to “see” the past as the mist lifts with Querig’s death.  The final passage has the couple begin to realize why in fact their son left their home years earlier, based on infidelities of Beatrice.  Beatrice and Axl begin to face the question of whether their new journey of “life ever after” for the couple is possible as they are asked to separate for a ride across to the ‘forever’ island together or alone.  Is forgiveness really possible?  Do the two trust each other enough to face the past so they can move on to a future together?  Ishiguro, like his previous book, uses metaphors and the device of the ‘mist’ brilliantly.  His storyline is engaging and pushes the reader to understand mortality, companionship, and truth and how does it all fit together at the end of our journey.  For anyone who has ever erred in life and in relationships, it hits one hard.  A beautiful story and one that has an inward reflective set of questions facing us.  Worth the ten year wait from his last book!