My reading list for 2017

Happy New Year! I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions but I do enjoy picking out books that I’m going to read for the year. Some years I focus on popular books that I’ve never read or on non-higher education books. For this year, I have identified 10 books that are mostly focused on faculty and academic governance. This is an area I ended 2016 thinking about and want to continue into 2017. Below are my books for the year along with blurbs from Amazon. What are you reading this year?

Photo credit: Moyan Brenn

Leadership lessons from George H.W. Bush

President George H.W. Bush is an intriguing political figure. He was a popular wartime president and foreign policy expert. Yet, his presidency was only one term due to failings in communication and domestic policy. I recently read Jon Meacham’s excellent biography, Destiny and Power:  The American Odyssey of George Herbert Walker Bush. As an old history major, I find biographies fascinating. Meacham’s account was quite well done and left me thinking about leadership lessons from George H.W. Bush.

Photo courtesy: PBS

George H.W. Bush was as well prepared to assume the presidency as anyone in modern history. He was a decorated pilot in World War II.  He served in Congress, as Ambassador to the United Nations, Republican National Committee chair, and eight years as Vice President.

Bush lead during a time of tremendous change with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany, and the first Gulf War.

However, President Bush also struggled with communicating his vision for the country as well as his domestic policy priorities.

In addition, he was distrusted by movement conservatives within his own party which confronted him through much of his political career.

After reading Meacham’s book, three leadership lessons seem relevant for higher education leaders and more generally.

3 reasons why higher education needs optimist leaders

Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have little in common politically. Moreover, they think about how to make decisions differently. I was fortunate to attend an event recently where both men talked about leadership (full video is at the end of this post). While they offered great specific advice, one point constantly struck me:  they are both optimists. Much of the higher education world is filled with doom and gloom from reduced funding, waning public support, and criticism about costs and outcomes. Given all the challenges facing higher education, I want to share 3 reasons why higher education needs optimist leaders.

Photo credit: Reuters

Presidents Clinton and Bush faced numerous crises during their administrations. The address problems using a different ideology, management style, and decision-making philosophy.

The Power of Typecasting: Lessons from Mr. Spock

I grew up a fan of Star Trek.  As a kid, I loved the action and adventure.  As an adult, I loved the powerful messages told through the action and adventure.  Last week, Leonard Nimoy who played the iconic Mr. Spock died.  I have so many memories growing up watching Kirk, Spock, and the rest of the Enterprise crew.  In many ways, I think Nimoy and Spock were both among the most complicated characters in the Star Trek universe, which also accounts for how much both actor and character were beloved.  However, Nimoy held a love/hate relationship with the character largely as a result of the power of typecasting.

Nimoy had a hard time separating himself and his career from the character of Spock.  He even wrote a book in 1975 entitled, “I am not Spock.”

Dealing with Helicopter Parents: Lessons from Kindergarten

One of the worst jobs I had in graduate school was as a bouncer. No, I wasn’t working outside of a bar or nightclub. I was working new student orientation. My job was to make sure that students went in alone and registered for campus services. Parents and other family members had to wait outside. It was an interesting summer and some parents understood. However, there were a few that were quite unhappy. Dealing with helicopter parents can be frustrating for everyone involved.

Dealing with Helicopter Parents

Photo credit: Rainer Hungershausen

Today marks a personal parenting milestone for me. My youngest child, Daniel, starts kindergarten today. While he is both excited and a little nervous, I’m thrilled to get rid of daycare bills! I’ve been struck in the last couple of weeks about the advice and tips given to kindergarten parents. Might this advice also be useful for dealing with helicopter parents.