University of Maryland and ACC End Bitter Departure Lawsuits

University of Maryland and ACC Reach Legal Agreement.

Quick Reference: While this legal matter has been going on for what seems like ages, the ACC and Maryland have come to an agreement that will allow the monetary issue to be settled and the lawsuits to officially be dropped. This decision was a longtime coming and means that Maryland can refocus on its first official year in the Big Ten, while the ACC refocuses on their updated conference with the additional of Louisville and still fresh additions of Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh.

Check out the link above to get all of the details.


Residence Life Explained in Emoji

This pretty much sums up working in Residence Life…


A gift to my friends in Residence Life.  (And there’s a downloadable PowerPoint version, just click save along the top.  Feel free to use and remix as you wish!)

THROW DOWN!  If you have your own to add, please tweet me!  I’ll release a second edition!
If I was working in Residence Life right now, this would totally be the RA Training competition for the week. 😉

And PLEASE share this on social media… I like the idea of spreading a little humor during a rough month.  May August treat you well!   xoxo Pb

rlin emojiopeningra training skitmandatory floor meetingreshall regsfalse fire alarmdutyroommate conflictlock outsroom damageswhy we do itIf you’re looking for a little more fun, see also: Tim Gunn: Student Affairs Professional. 🙂 res hall opening

View original post

Campus Safety: The Fault in Our Schools

Colleges and universities are not infallible when it comes to managing issues of sexual misconduct and assault. Educational efforts are touted by Student Affairs departments, information gets distributed to students and parents during orientation, and systems are set up to provide support for students struggling through incidents of sexual harassment or assault. Unfortunately, the system does not always work out as intended. There are many students who have felt challenged by policies and procedures that delay or complicate their hope to resolve their situations. Over 55 schools have come under fire for their work to manage and support students through cases of sexual misconduct.

One such case involves the recent issue at James Madison University, involving the expulsion of students after their graduation.

The University of North Caroline, Morgan State University, Frostburg State University, Johns Hopkins University, and Harvard University, to name a few, have all come under fire by the Department of Education for the mishandling of cases.

While the policies and procedures are for the Department of Education and the universities to review and manage, students still have an opportunity to take preventative measures to avoid needing to enact the sexual misconduct processes. While many sexual misconduct cases include alcohol, many of them do not. To be safe, students should take the following precautions:

  1. Be aware of your environment. How well do you know the people around you? Is the area well lit? Do you know where blue light phones are located?
  2. Be aware of your resources. While self-defense classes can be helpful for confidence, it is better to know what resources campus police and departments provide. Are there phone apps or important numbers you should program into your contact list? Are there transportation services provided by public safety or transportation?
  3. Know your friends and acquaintances. While 80-90% of sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows, social pressure is a dangerous tactic used to complete the act. Substances sometimes contribute to the misconduct. Clarity in saying no can help, but any resistance to sexual acts needs to be respected.
  4. Keep records. If someone sends offensive or threatening pictures or texts, save them. If they leave obsessive or aggressive voicemails, save them. They can be used as evidence if safety becomes a serious concern.

It is the responsibility of people to protect themselves and to recognize signs of resistance to prevent and avoid issues of misconduct. If an incident happens, reporting is the best option, but persistence is required to come to a resolution.

If you have suggestions for proactive and reactive measures, please feel free to comment below.

Long Hiatus Over – Return to Current Events & Interesting Topics

Hello, readers!

I have been on a long hiatus from this blog and I have recently felt the itch to get back in. There are always interesting articles that have popped up sparking reactions or just topics that I find myself passionate about that I continue to explore. I would like to be more realistic about engaging in this blog at the same time. Because I actually manage an additional 2 socially-oriented blogs (which you can connect to as well), I was overwhelmed trying to find the right balance in posting. That said, you, as the readers, should be able to expect a minimum of 2 blog posts per week. I will try to hold myself accountable and hope that you as the readers feel like this effort is worthwhile.

If you have any reactions or ideas for posts, do not hesitate dropping a comment or sharing an article. Thanks!

By Dan Hairfield Posted in General

Millennial Needs: The Key to a Millennial’s Heart

On a recent blog post on the Student Affair Collaborative, the conversation continued with the how to appropriately work with millennial students. When the first conversations arose, it was a much simpler conversation. Millennials are special, sheltered, etc. This was missing the context of how these students would actually show up when they reached the collegiate level.

So what are the key points from the article?

  • “Recognize us” – Not necessarily in award form but just acknowledgeable that the work is good and getting done.
  • “We are not a plague” – Drop the negative connotation and acknowledge that millennials are simply different from previous generations.
  • Uniqueness – There is not simple generalization of all millennials.
  • Independence – While many have trouble with taking initiative, millennials may need just a push to head in the right direction.
  • Focus on Group Work – Use the uniqueness to let them collaborate and gain motivation from each other.

These five elements really put the concept of millennials more into perspective. It is true that every student is different and each one has their own special needs. They have been discriminated against because of the concepts of safety helmets and every kid getting a participation trophy. This was not the experience for everyone and it was perpetuated by the parental generation overseeing the millennials’ experiences. With the world being more connected but more complex, it is also more technologically-focused and can make it difficult for millennials to feel confident about their interpersonal skills away from electronic communication.

We, as student affairs professionals, cannot ignore the qualities (good and challenging) that make up millennials, nor can we assume that we known everything we need to know. Just wait until the next generation gets here and we start making assumptions about them…

SA Collaborative Post:

When Not Saying Anything is Truly the Best Choice

Within only a short period of time, there are two individuals who probably truly wish they have chosen their words more carefully…

The first of the major gaffes was from outgoing Ohio State president, Gordon Gee, who decided to take a shot at Notre Dame and Catholic institutions. In an address back in December, this was the following message he delivered:

“The fathers are holy on Sunday, and they’re holy hell on the rest of the week. You just can’t trust those damn Catholics on a Thursday or a Friday, and so, literally, I can say that. Father Joyce was one of those people who ran the university for many, many years. Notre Dame wanted to have its cake and eat it, too.”

He made this statement during a meeting with professors, students, members of the athletic department and athletic director Gene Smith. This was recently leaked to the greater public which put more pressure on the commonly controversial president. He has gotten in trouble at each of his schools, including his first stint at OSU.


The second major mistake came from a junior professor who did not consider that spreading the word of eugenics in the educational realm was going to get him a plethora of negative attention. In a Twitter post, he chose to say that PhD students will fail if they could not succeed at eliminating carbs from their diet. The implication taken by the general public was that he was saying overweight people cannot achieve a doctorate. The explosion on social media was huge. Much of it was rather clever, but the sentiment was that the majority of the public reaction was offense and disappointment in this man’s opinion.

Both of these men have recanted their original statements but their words live on in the immortal world of the internet. When in a leadership position like these men, role modeling appropriate behavior can not only mean the difference of garnering respect but also whether you can keep your job. In a complex world where lines are crossed on a regular basis, we need to expect more out of our leaders to help the next generation of leaders have a solid, respectful foundation to build upon.

Entering into Outreach in the Field: Rules for Preparing Your Proposal

In an effort to help those less experienced in the area of proposal writing, John P. Summerlot put together a list of 11 important rules regarding preparations for a conference in his article with the Eighth Vector (2008). Though with more of a focus from ACPA, his rules are informative regardless of the conference experience one is trying to enter into. I wanted to take his rules and reiterate their importance and add a little extra perspective to help others entering into the proposal writing process.

  1. Stick to What You Know: In an effort to impress, it is not surprising that some would try to delve into topics that may be hot items right now but not significant interest areas for that person. It is always better to go with a topic area that is a passion of your or you at least have some direct experience with.
  2. Go With Something Unique and Timely: Choosing a topic that is a little too narrow in a niche (though possibly very interesting) or choosing the topic that everyone else wants to present on can backfire if you cannot bring something to the table that will engage and impress. Finding a balance between the two can help make your program be a standout feature of the conference (i.e. using media resources as a gauge of the student assessment of campus safety in the wake of mass shooting incidents).
  3. Know Your Audience: While you would love the program to appeal to everyone, it is not usually possible to be able to craft that perfect session. Still, you want to try to appeal to as large of a population as possible, so avoid focusing on topics that are overly focused and try to make it as interdisciplinary as possible.
  4. Raise the Interest Factor: Sometimes, you best efforts may not yield your best results. Try writing the abstract, or at least reviewing it, on different days and under different conditions. Make sure that you are articulating your focus but also highlighting what is unique and engaging about your specific presentation.
  5. Don’t Do This Alone: Getting someone you trust to proofread and analyze your proposal can be one of the greatest differences between selection or rejection. Grammar issues and spelling errors may not completely derail an attempt but they can make it a tough path to get through.
  6. Be Clear Throughout the Proposal: It is important that all parts of the proposal match an support each other, but it is even more vital that the abstract and the description of the program both highlight the topic, purpose and outcomes of your session.
  7. Create an Open Environment: Sessions feel a little less stale if there is a chance for audience participation. Being able to articulate that somewhere in the proposal is beneficial to selection, both by the committee and the attendees at conference time.
  8. Keep It Real: While conferences are times to convey important research or discuss scholarly issues, stuffiness and emphasizing the intellectual side of the session could actually backfire (and so could being too casual with the topic). Balance is important to both emphasize the importance of the topic and make the topic accessible to a broad audience.
  9. Aim High But Not Always for the Moon: Having lofty goals can be okay but they can also be a deterrent. Promising to save the world can be a little too ambitious for those are seeking more trust in the presenters they hope to observe. At the same time, it is impossible to promise that every solution will work at every institution. Providing a framework to take back to individual institutions allows attendees to see if and how they can adapt your findings or recommendations to their environments.
  10. Tracking Can Be Beneficial: While getting too narrow can be detrimental to successfully attracting a crowd, tracking can actually help identify the type of audience you are searching for. Hosting a session that focuses on promising practices may not be during the peak session blocks but could also attract the more dedicated professionals that are willing to came early and stay late to attend your session.
  11. Rules are Guidelines, NOT Restrictions: I know that is a little off in terms of the definition of rules, but the concept here is that you should not get bogged down by the rules or requirements that people share in terms of conference proposals. If you want to be unconventional in terms of your topic, you should go for it. The comments from others are suggestions and recommendations, not carved in stone.

Preparing for a Career in Student Affairs

In a recent article in the Eighth Vector, Sara Doyle, Kristen Renn and Eric Jessup-Anger discussed one of the most important issues for graduate students and new professionals in the field of higher education…preparation for Student Affairs. It is not recent news that Student Affairs as a field has struggled to maintain high persistence of its staff. Many young men and women enter into Student Affairs position without considering what the opportunity could be long-term. Some have high hopes but fail to plan effectively. Renn and Jessup-Anger studied graduate students and young professionals to try to understand where the pitfalls are that deter people from staying in the field.

  1. Broader Scope of Learning: The transition from graduate school to the professional world means that learning is not a 1-way street like it may have been. It is important that you are working with you students on collaborative learning and considering ways to give back to the field.
  2. Maintaining a Focus on Learning: The process of learning happens both inside and outside of a classroom. For those who are more traditional, there are ways to engage in classroom learning from a professional level, but there are more ways to maintain that value through non-classroom methods. Asking questions and engaging in the work context of your theories are just two ways to refocus your work into continued development.
  3. Engage in the Environment: Culture is a big part of the working world and each university has a different one (or at least different variables). Missing the mark on communication methods and how staff relate to each other could be detrimental to one’s personal/professional success.
  4. Take Ownership of Your Development: While a supervisor can guide and help search of opportunities, only you know where you path leads. You have to identify the experiences you want to have and topics with whic you want to engage. You need to define your plan, while your colleagues and supervisor can help to define the specific opportunities to steer you toward.
  5. Supervisor = Mentor?: While this is a possible relationship, you may connect better with other colleagues at your institution or at other institutions (through conference or other professional development experiences). No every supervisor has the ability to be all things to all supervisees.
  6. Define Your Mentor Lineup: Recognizing what your professional development plan may look like should be accompanied with who can help you navigate that path an support you through the process. Some individuals may be comfortable with one main mentor but identifying multiple people could be very beneficial.
  7. Balance New and Existing Support Networks: There are going to be some support networks that are very beneficial for your development and motivation (i.e. graduate school cohort or other new professionals). Each support network you have may only be able to support you in certain areas or up to a point, but they still remain valuable to your balance. Examine how different people support the maintenance and continued development of your career.
  8. Work Does NOT Equal Life: It is easy to put in the extra hours in Student Affairs, especially if you live on-campus in Housing and/or are single. You may love your job, but burnout is a major issue in the field and a balance must be met. There is more to life than working with students and everyone needs to find their personal passion areas and find the time to focus on them.
  9. Give Yourself Reflection: If you feel that you are in a great place, then do not change anything for the time being. If you are feeling challenged by your position or the balance in your life, do not make any rash decisions. It takes a full year to transition into a new place or a new position. Use your resources to process your experiences and make informed decisions to either continue to learn for the experience or make any necessary changes.
  10. Balance Confidence and Restraint: It is okay to be confident but humbleness is a virtue as well. It can be frustrating to be bursting with ideas and want to go headstrong into changes or to show off your knowledge fresh from graduate school, but both of those interactions are quick ways to create rifts in your professional relationships.

These are all fairly important tips to remember, particularly in the process of transition to the professional environment. In summary…learning is lifelong….balance is key…build meaningful, lasting relationships…reflect.

The Importance of Motivation: Avoiding the Creation of Disgruntled Employees

I have been an advocate of the How Full Is Your Bucket book and program provided by Gallup for some time now, but it always good to get a little reinforcement for the importance of focusing on the work environment created for my employees. In the past, I know that I have been in a few work situations that failed to meet my expectations for support, guidance and trust in my peers/supervisors. It is when these things are missing that workplaces struggle and people start to leave for better opportunities.

Encouragement, trust, development, communication, honesty and relationship building are keys to success, at least according to Joseph Folkman from Harvard Business Review ( I have copied the blog post below because I do agree with his thoughts, though I would expand development more or add a statement about providing challenge and encouraging leadership among your staff members. I have found it effective to entrust seasoned staff members with extra tasks or leadership of a project. They need to feel like there is something fresh about the position to maintain those higher levels of engagement.


You can’t make every worker happy, surely, and should a business even try? Evidence from our recent research suggests, actually, that the answer is yes. Or rather, our evidence shows that managers are giving up far too soon on their disgruntled employees, making them less productive than they could be, exposing their companies to unnecessary risks from thefts and leaks in the process, and inflating turnover costs.

What causes employees to become disgruntled and what can be done to prevent it? To find out we zeroed in on the most unhappy people in our data. These were 6% in our database of 160,576 employees who displayed the lowest levels of job satisfaction and commitment on their 360 evaluations of their bosses. We were looking for those among them whose managers also oversaw the most satisfied employees. In this way we identified that group of leaders who were managing both the very unhappy and the very happy at the same time.

The results of the data were clear: There is most definitely such a thing as “the boss’s favorites.” And while, in any disagreement we inevitably find both parties bear part of the fault — that is, the disgruntled employees do certainly play some role in their own unhappiness — we consistently found in the analysis that their complaints were justified. Their managers were in fact treating the disgruntled employee differently than they treated their very satisfied employees. What’s more, when the managers in question started to treat their disgruntled employees like everyone else, the employees’ behavior quickly improved.

Our results suggest a clear path forward for bringing disgruntled employees back into the fold. In particular, the unhappy group in our survey strongly agreed on six major areas in which they felt (and we agree) that their leaders needed to improve:

  • Encourage me more. When we asked the unhappy 6% to name the skill they thought was most important for their boss to demonstrate, the top response was “Inspire and motivate others.” Too often, managers take a negative tone with disgruntled employees. Expecting that efforts to motivate will be ignored, none are proffered, and the expectations become self-fulfilling. But our data suggest managers should take the opposite view: Work harder to inspire this group. Keep the conversation positive. Expect the best, not the worst.
  • Trust me more. It’s probably not surprising that both parties — unhappy employee and boss alike — distrust each other. The key to restoring trust is to operate with the belief that the other party can change. Here we’d suggest the manager make the first move by making the effort to understand the employee’s problems. Then, as both parties work on their relationship, they must strive for consistency —that is, the manager must strive to treat all employees equitably, and both parties must strive to reliably do what they say they will do. Over time, trust will grow.
  • Take an interest in my development. If a person works hard and gets a pay check he has a job. But if a person works hard, gets a pay check, and learns a new skill, she has a career. Career development should not be focused only on the high-potentials. As counterintuitive as it may seem, don’t leave the underachievers out when distributing stretch assignments.
  • Keep me in the loop. Communication is fundamentally a management function, so this responsibility rests squarely with the managers. Great communicators do three things well. First, they share information and keep everyone well informed. Second, they ask good questions, inviting the opinions and views from others — all others. Third, they listen. And not just to the people they like.
  • Be more honest with me. People want to know how they’re really doing on the job — and the one’s not in favor perhaps even more than the one’s feeling the warm glow of approval. They want to know why they’re falling short. They want a chance to improve. Too often, though, the bottom 6% felt their bosses were not giving honest feedback, glossing over problems with comments like “You’re coming along fine,” when clearly they were not. What’s more, many reported promises being made (“if you finish this project on time then…”) that were not kept. Honesty is the bedrock of good relationships.
  • Connect with me more. Anything managers can to do improve their relationship with the disgruntled employees will have a significant positive influence. Here’s where favoritism takes on its most concrete form: managers go to lunch more with people they like, our data show; they talk with them more socially (about children, sports, etc); they know them more personally. This is natural, surely, but so are the feelings of exclusion it creates among the less favored. A small effort by managers to spread their attention around more broadly can go a long way here.

As leaders, our knee-jerk reaction to unfavored (and disgruntled) employees is often — “It’s their own fault!” Our research shows this is not always (and often not wholly) the case. Before you settle for letting your dissatisfied people go and cost your organization thousands of dollars in employee turnover, take a moment to consider how these performers need to be treated.

If not for their sake, then for everyone else’s sake. Research by the University of British Columbia recently published in the Journal of Human Resources has shown that those who witness workplace bullying become equally disgruntled as the victims and just as likely to quit. All employees need leaders who know how to inspire and motivate them, give them opportunities for development, and treat them with the respect and dignity they each deserve.

A third of a person’s life is spent in the workplace, sometimes more. When the environment is created by an extraordinary leader who cares about everyone’s development, it leaves employees with little room to complain.