As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, it is a good opportunity to reflect upon our careers in higher education. We can't think of a single other profession that provides the opportunity to learn something new every day while at the same time impacting the future of so many. As we reflect upon our work, we consider the importance of always keeping the student in the center of our conversation and as the focus of our efforts. Changes are happening across higher education. Experiences outside of the classroom are often as meaningful as those inside the classroom. The academic professionals on your campuses are integral to the success and well-being of your students.
We are academic professionals. We take our jobs seriously. Along with our faculty colleagues, we value teaching and learning. The work we do is not just a job, it's a vocation. Like other academics, we went to graduate school. We conduct research. We publish papers in academic journals. We attend professional development programs and conferences, and yes, we work with students. Higher education is a collaborative effort; it truly takes a 'village' to wholly educate a student.
Recently on the Puget Sound campus there have been many conversations about helping students find their voice, about examining our current culture, and about asking the difficult question -- how can we as a university do better in building a campus climate where everyone feels valued? All across this nation, universities are responsible for the environment created both inside and outside of the physical classroom; this prompts us to think about our colleagues in libraries and all throughout campus who contribute to the quality of the higher education community. Information technology professionals manage complex computer and technical systems that make our virtual classrooms possible. Librarians spend hours working closely with students to help identify and evaluate research materials. There are staff members who are experts in the current pedagogy associated with teaching and learning. There are professionals who assist students with complex personal issues associated with all aspects of mental health, who coach and mentor students through career planning, and who ensure that the resources students need in the classroom are accessible.
Academic professionals take their jobs seriously, and you should take THEM seriously. We salute all those academic professionals who devote their time, energy, and passion to enhancing the student experience, and to making it a safe and productive experience.